A union-led collaboration to solve the problem of wealth extraction within supply teaching by the creation of a worker-owned co-operative.
Privatised supply teacher agencies have come to replace publicly–run pools, leading to falling wages, eroding job security and employment rights.
Motivated by their own experiences, a group of supply teachers in the north east has been working closely with the NEU, NASUWT, TUC and North of Tyne Metro Mayor, Jamie Driscoll to create a supply teacher co-operative.
Community wealth building approach
Owned and controlled by the teachers themselves, the co-operative will have an imperative to pay fairly and provide good terms and conditions for teachers, ensure schools receive a high quality of service and to represent the interests of children.
Unions are ideally placed to lead on projects like this, as they work directly with teachers who are affected by the extractive agency model and have the collective power to tackle the problem. The NEU has produced a toolkit to reinforce their conference commitment to seek “an in-house system of democratically accountable, properly rewarded employment” for supply teachers.
This project acts as inspiration beyond the education sector and into those other areas of our economy where profits are made at the expense of the rights of workers and those they serve. From social care workers, to gas fitters and leisure sector workers there are large swathes of our economy where the need for ethical, democratically owned organisations is urgent. In this most critical of tasks, the community wealth building world has a huge amount to gain from reaching out to and involving trade unions.