Speech by Hank Roberts, Immediate Past President of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) at his president’s reception in London, 6 September 2012.
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As of 1st September 2013 Hank is the National Immediate Past President of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). His presidential year was a culmination of his union work over his long and varied career in education. Over the year, Hank met many members at meetings around the country speaking on a wide range of issues. He aims to continue to promote the cause of state education and continue to campaign against the ever increasing drive towards privatisation.
Hank seconded the ATL motion on pensions at the Easter Conference 2011 that led to the historic decision for the Association to hold its first national strike for 127 years on June 30th 2011 alongside the NUT and others.
The union took historic action again on pension reform, when they joined with up to two million members of all other education unions along with public sector unions in the national strike on November 30th 2011.
Hank Roberts is a member of the three major teaching unions (NUT, ATL, and NASUWT). Hank is well known for his tenacity and fearlessness in campaigning and negotiating on behalf of members. As a founder member of UNIFY – One Education Union (formerly Professional Unity 2000) he uses all opportunities to promote closer working and campaigning together.
Hank blew the whistle on his Headteacher’s outrageous bonuses and was suspended for his action. When it became clear to the Government and Brent that he would continue to pursue the unlawful payments to senior staff in the school they had to act. The Head and two senior staff were suspended and Hank was reinstated. It has taken until June this year for Sir Alan et al to be charged.
His five year campaign, with teachers, parents and residents, to stop the building of an academy on sports ground has given inspiration to others campaigning to save state education.
Also Hank has done sterling work on Health and Safety, in particular to have asbestos removed from all educational premises. For this work he received the prestigious ‘Alan’ award 2009 at the Hazards national Conference. Known as the ‘troublemaker of the year’ award it is given to those who help make workplaces safer for workers and environments healthier for communities. Previously he won the TUC award for Health and Safety Rep of the Year
When Hank was on the NUT Executive he was not part of any faction but would decide on the merits of a decision taking into consideration how members would be prepared to support it. This is the type of leadership we need across the profession.