Education International
Education International

UK: Unions build closer ties for effective action

published 26 September 2011 updated 29 September 2011

A quartet of EI’s affiliates in the UK – the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), and the Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) – have launched an historic partnership for closer co-operation, campaigning, and promotion of trade union values.

The unions represent 375,000 teachers in England, N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales and have agreed to work in partnership to benefit teachers in each country because despite differing education systems many of the challenges teachers face are the same.

It is hoped that the new partnership will enable the unions to address mutual concerns more effectively and allow their members to benefit from support from the appropriate union should they move between the countries of the UK.

EIS General Secretary, and EI Europe (ETUCE) President, Ronnie Smith, said: “The EIS is pleased to re-affirm its long-standing special relationship with our partner unions, and to formalise it in this partnership greement. It aims to facilitate the sharing of information and ideas and also joint campaigning on issues that cut across different education systems in the UK. At the same time each union retains its independence and ability to focus its work on the education system specific to their respective jurisdictions.”

INTO General Secretary, Sheila Nunan, stressed: “This agreement will strengthen existing links and co-operation between the four unions and will be of great benefit to teachers. By working more closely together all of the unions will be better placed to meet the significant challenges facing teachers today. I warmly welcome this development which is another step to unite teachers in making progress on issues of common concern.”

NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower, added: “I am pleased that our close ties with sister unions in the UK has been made stronger by this agreement and I look forward to working together on the many common challenges we face as unions committed to publicly funded and publicly accountable education provision.”

UTU General Secretary, Avril Hall-Callaghan, concluded by saying: “Many young people from Northern Ireland travel to colleges elsewhere to obtain their third level qualifications. This historic partnership agreement ensures that no matter what career path they choose to follow within teaching they are covered automatically by one of the ‘Big Four’ unions.”

EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, welcomed this “step further towards teachers’ unity.” He also acknowledged that the four affiliates have always worked very closely, adding “the partnership agreement will facilitate teacher migration from one region to another within the UK.”