Unions angry at ‘behind the scenes’ negotiations by NASUWT

Unions angry at 'behind the scenes' negotiations by NASUWT

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it was “disappointed” and seeking “urgent clarification” today after the NASUWT union alone reached an agreement with the government of Jersey.

Three teaching unions – the NUT, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) – have also written to the island’s government, setting out their unhappiness over the fact that talks were held with one union on its own.

Last Friday the NASUWT signed what they described as a “framework for a ground-breaking social partnership” with the States of Jersey. The deal follows two years of discussions, but a spokesperson for the Jersey government said it was an ‘in-principle’ agreement to work together, rather than an agreement on specifics.

Other unions were not part of the negotiations, however, leading to criticism that the NASUWT had gone it alone.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT told Schools Week: “We are disappointed that one union has chosen to enter into behind the scenes negotiations with the government in Jersey, and the other teacher unions will be working together to seek a meeting for urgent clarification of matters with the States.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, defended the agreement, however, and said that all of the teaching unions represented on the island had had the opportunity to forge such agreements.

Two years ago, the teaching unions were offered an opportunity to come forward with proposals on how relations with the government could be strengthened, she said.

We are disappointed that one union has chosen to enter into behind the scenes negotiations

“Over the last two years the discussions have been raised at meetings where all the unions have been present. We’ve had meetings with the States to put forward our proposals; they’ve come back,” Ms Keates said.

“But we’ve made no secret of this. It’s just that the NASUWT was the union that accepted the invitation. All along we’ve said that we’re happy for whoever would like to be involved in the partnership to be involved.”

Asked about an email seen by Schools Week, which called for secrecy over the announcement of the agreement, Ms Keates said that the plea for confidentiality related specifically to news of a press conference that had been called for the announcement.

“The fact that an agreement was being brokered had been in the public domain. Quite frankly anybody who knows Jersey would know that it would be impossible for two years to keep something secret. … If other people have not been involved, that’s because it’s been a matter of choice that they didn’t take up the invitation from the States.”

No further details of the deal were available from the government of Jersey.