Politics

Thousands of heads may have been denied strike vote, says NAHT

Union reveals it re-issued over 5,000 ballots amid postal disruption, but three in four may not have reached members in time

Union reveals it re-issued over 5,000 ballots amid postal disruption, but three in four may not have reached members in time

Exclusive

One in seven school leaders may have been denied the chance to vote in the NAHT’s strike ballot because of disruption caused by postal strikes, internal union data seen by Schools Week suggests.

The union fell short of the mandatory 50 per cent turnout threshold in its first national ballot over pay in its 125-year history.

The union announced on Monday that it is considering re-balloting its 25,500 eligible members.

The NASUWT teaching union is also mulling another vote after failing to meet the threshold for legal action.

Only the National Education Union (NEU) won its ballot for strike action, with six days of teacher walkouts planned in England throughout February and March. It also announced the result on Monday.

Formal strike ballots must be conducted by post, but the ballots coincided with several walkouts by Royal Mail staff. The NAHT described it as an “unprecedented” disruption.

Rob Kelsall, the union’s national secretary, told Schools Week he was “confident that had that disruption not happened, that threshold would have been met”.

Election firm asked to investigate disruption

Figures seen by Schools Week show 5,122 replacement ballots were issued during the voting period, 4,063 of which were because of no-shows. Another 1,059 were because of changes to addresses.

Ninety-six per cent of requests came from England. In Wales, where there was less disruption, the union met the thresholds needed for action short of a strike.

Kelsall

The union surveyed about 1,200 members who were issued replacements, and 74 per cent reported they had not arrived as of last week. The ballot closed last Wednesday.

If this was extrapolated to all those receiving replacements ballots, it would mean as many as 3,700 eligible members, about 15 per cent, were not able to vote. The NAHT missed its turnout threshold by 8 per cent.

Kelsall said the situation was “alarming”. The union has asked Civica, which ran the election on its behalf, to analyse the number of duplicate papers returned.

Rachel Linkletter, a deputy head, tweeted that she received her ballot paper a day after the vote closed. Sue Gould, another NAHT member, said she had still not received hers as of Tuesday this week.

NASUWT members have also reported issues, with some members saying they planned to switch their membership to the NEU so they could take part in its strikes.

NASUWT turnout just 34% in England state schools

Schools Week also understands turnout in NASUWT’s ballot was just 34 per cent in state schools in England.

This is much lower than the 42 per cent average figure reported across England and Wales and across schools and sixth-form colleges. The union declined to comment.

The NEU said it had registered 10,000 new members since its  announcement on Monday, and that the number was climbing.

The education-legal support organisation Edapt said its own membership was up seven per cent since the start of term – up from two per cent in the same time last year.

Kelsall acknowledged the NAHT was “taking quite a lot of stick from members right now”, adding: “We are as concerned as them. It’s a serious matter for us.”

But he said the union was “stuck between a rock and a hard place on this because the law says we must conduct it by post”.

The NAHT has also pointed to the discrepancy in turnout of 64 per cent in its electronic indicative ballot last year, and the 42 per cent achieved in the formal ballot.

But Kelsall also said the ballot showed a “hardening of the resolve” of members whose ballots papers were returned. Sixty-four per cent of those who voted backed strike action, up from 54 per cent in the indicative poll.

“With the thousands of members who asked for a duplicate ballot paper, they would only ever have one intention, and that is to cast their vote. And that’s what makes us confident that had that disruption not happened, that threshold would have been met.”

Latest education roles from

Nursery Opportunities

Nursery Opportunities

Carshalton College

Tutorial Learning Mentor

Tutorial Learning Mentor

Barnsley College

LECTURER – PSYCHOLOGY

LECTURER – PSYCHOLOGY

East Sussex College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Satis Education

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Politics

Robert Halfon resigns as skills minister

Former education committee chair will also stand down as an MP at the election

Billy Camden
Politics

Ark stands by chair Sir Paul Marshall over social media activity

The Conservative donor has been accused of liking and sharing extremist posts

Freddie Whittaker
Politics

Phillipson invokes zeal of Gove reforms in Labour schools vision

Former minister brought 'energy and drive and determination' that is required again, says shadow education secretary

Samantha Booth
Politics

Government ‘not governing’ as schools policies in limbo

Schools Week analysis finds at least 21 policies promised for this year have yet to materialise

Samantha Booth

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *