The teacher unions, the NUT and the NASUWT are annoyingly wet, and it has been said that they are also complicit in the worsening crisis in education. The fact that they are now sabre rattling over Easter is not exactly something we should all get excited about.
The unions are charged with defending teachers against injustice like physical and verbal abuse, bullying, corruption, witch hunts, xenophobia, and age discrimination. They have offered so much promise but have provided so little action year on year on year.
If a teacher has a grievance with their employer, there is a default position adopted by the unions that represent them. It is in fact routine for teachers to be obliged to accept no-blame Compromise Agreements, because the Unions find it so much easier and cheaper if they do so.
In this way any blame that might be attributed to an employer is swept under the carpet, and the school is allowed to maintain a reputation it does not necessarily deserve. The sum of money that passes from the employer to the teacher is usually more than would be awarded by an Employment Tribunal, but the employer is bound to defend their reputation and has a great deal of cash provided by the public purse to do so.
In theory the employee is free to reject the cash and to take the fight to an Employment Tribunal but only if they have very deep pockets. The employee is disadvantaged because they do not have the public purse at their disposal.
In this way physical and verbal abuse, bullying, corruption, witch hunts, xenophobia, and discrimination of all kinds are all swept under the carpet.
And if you find this assertion hard to accept, then you must consider the frequent surveys of teachers confirming that an overwhelming majority of teachers have experienced bullying by senior management.
The most recent survey is discussed here by the Guardian and suggests that the epidemic of bullying is worsening: Guardian 7 April 2012.
A resolution of a teacher's grievance with an employer is not necessarily complicated, if only the employer would follow their own procedures. However an employer would not necessarily follow their own procedure if it meant that the school would be exposed to criticism particularly if it were justified
In this case the employer is distanced from the grievance, by HR advisors employed to manage mistakes made by management. HR advisors are skilled in the dark arts of negotiating the end of a good teacher's career whilst prolonging the careers of bad head teachers.
Of course there are some very bad teachers and a few good head teachers, and in these circumstances, the dark arts are not required
The unions work in the same way. An appropriate resolution of all grievances is not possible because of the scarcity of Union resources and because of the weight of their caseloads. Grievances are therefore resolved with cash, and that cash is provided by the public purse. Over time Employers are encouraged to do as they please, and teachers and indeed other employees are treated like commodities.
The default position of this government is that Head Teachers do no wrong, and are burdened with a troublesome firing process, or as Vince Cable has put it... it is too difficult for Head Teachers to "get rid of" teachers.
So Vince Cable, where is the evidence that Head Teachers are acting properly if more than 50% of them are capable of bullying their staff?
Where is the evidence upon which you base your change of law debasing employment law? Look at what has been swept under the carpet, and if you have not seen what is under the carpet, drop me a line and I will show it to you.
And as for Gove? God help us.