Education professionals: Voice members don’t strike – we believe in the strength of negotiation

30 Sep

Updates: 19 September 2014

See comments from Voice members below

10 July 2014:


Teachers’/education professionals’ strikes are “futile, counter-productive, empty-gesture politics”.

“Strikes are counter-productive”.

“Strikes hit everyone – children, students, families and schools – except the intended target – the Government.”

Voice believes in “the force of argument, not the argument of force”.

Voice: the union for education professionals respects the right of others to take industrial action, and shares their concerns about pay, conditions and the Government’s education policies, but our members do not strike.

“We believe in the strength of negotiation.”

These strikes achieve nothing but do set back any progress made in negotiations.

Those in favour of strikes like to portray them as some kind of magic bullet that will make the Government capitulate and reverse every change made and abandon every policy implemented. Instead, they play into ministers’ hands and enhance their standing with his party and the popular press. 

We have to live in the real world. Negotiating with the Government isn’t easy and doesn’t bring instant results over night, but this is the only way we can the gain the best possible outcomes for our members. 

Voice believes that public sector workers deserve more than a 1% pay rise and Voice made a strong case in both our written and oral representations for a pay uplift of more than 1%. We have joined forces with the other education unions to lobby the Government over this and are involved in weekly talks at a national level to argue our point in relation to a range of issues, including pay. It is likely that even the 1% would not have been offered without the efforts of union negotiators, so progress is being been made, although we will continue to lobby for more.

Of necessity, the detail of national talks is sensitive and much of it has to remain confidential, so we are not free to publish it – but it is Voice’s highest priority to continue to engage in these talks in order to promote the interests of our members.

Negotiating with the Government has resulted in: 

  • common ground for unions and the Secretary of State in relation to unnecessary bureaucracy –  Voice has provided evidence of bureaucracy that impacts on members’ workload and progress is being made as the result of our concerns about workload and the factors which contribute to it;  
  • concessions on pay and conditions in the pay negotiations (including the retention of existing statements of professional responsibilities for teachers, the rejection by the STRB of the Secretary of State’s  plans for a longer school day and shorter holidays; the recognition by the STRB of the unions’ evidence-based concerns about recruitment and retention and its highlighting of Voice’s  specific concerns about newly qualified teachers, morale and allowing teachers’ pay to become uncompetitive’) 
  • the inclusion of spine points in new DfE advice to schools on updating pay policies to bring them in line with the 2014 STPCD, to be followed by advice documents on The use of Evidence in Appraisal, Dealing with Pay Appeals, and Equalities Issues when applying the Pay Document. Voice and the other teacher unions have had substantial input into these documents, which we feel are essential to help schools navigate some of the possible pitfalls of the new system. They will be available in school from July.

We hope that the Secretary of State and DfE officials, having experienced the benefit of positive engagement with the profession through the unions, will choose to work with them to develop policy in future and not just to implement it. Strikes will only put that positive engagement in jeopardy.

Further information:

“There’s no room for strikes, they harm too many people”: The Telegraph, 10 July 2014

Industrial action advice

Industrial action news  

Why Voice Scotland members don’t strike.


More blog posts on Industrial action/strikes

8 November, 14 November 2013/July 2014
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4 Responses to “Education professionals: Voice members don’t strike – we believe in the strength of negotiation”

  1. Richard Fraser 14. Jul, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    Welcome to the 200+ new members who have joined us in recent weeks

  2. Richard Fraser 19. Sep, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Article in TES today:

    ‘Against: “I believe in the force of argument”

    ‘John Crowther, who teaches physics at Herschel Grammar School in Slough, used to be an NUT member but has now joined the non-striking union Voice.

    ‘“I believe in the force of argument rather than the argument of force,” he says. “I came into teaching to help young people. We are not helping them by going out on strike. I also see an element of hypocrisy when teachers moan about pupils being absent during term time but they are prepared to go on strike.

    ‘“As a profession, we would gain more credibility if we talked things through rather than throwing our toys out of the pram.”’

  3. Geraldine Everett, National Chairman 19. Sep, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I respect the right of others to strike, but it’s not my way in education settings because the people affected by strikes aren’t those who have any control over the issues involved. The ones who suffer are the children and their families.

    Consider the single parent with a zero hours contract who cannot work because he or she has to look after children who are not in school because of strike action.

    I used to be in a union that took strike action. The reason I joined Voice, as it is now, was because of its no-strike policy. I also didn’t see the point of not going on strike while belonging to a union that did.

    My colleagues and I won’t strike but we won’t take on the work of those who do.

    Geraldine Everett, supply teacher, education consultant and National Chairman of Voice

  4. Richard Fraser 12. Jun, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    Alastair Campbell: “A lot of trade unions, especially with Labour, made the mistake of equating media coverage and noise with political impact.
    “It’s the wrong way round. You will get that impact, with a fair reasonable government, by the power of your argument”:

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