The National Education Union will ballot its members for strike action if the education secretary does not agree to fully-fund an inflation-busting pay rise for teachers and support staff by next Friday.
The union, which is currently holding an indicative ballot of teacher and support staff members over industrial action, said it would officially enter a trade dispute with Kit Malthouse if its demands aren’t met.
It comes after schools minister Jonathan Gullis said the government was “not going to budge” on its pay offer, worth just 5 per cent for most teachers. The current CPI inflation rate is 9.9 per cent.
In a letter, the NEU said the education secretary had until noon on October 14 to give schools the funds to allow them to increase the pay of staff “at a rate greater than the rate of inflation (RPI) as at September 2022”.
September RPI figures have not yet been published, but the measure hit 12.3 per cent in August.
The dispute would apply to teachers and support staff working in academies and local authority maintained schools. A separate letter has been issued with a similar threat relating to teachers sixth form college staff.
Joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said unless Malthouse agreed to the funding for a “fully funded above inflation pay increase…we will be formally balloting our members for strike action”.
Staff ‘can no longer take’ real-terms cuts
“No one wants to take strike action, but education staff can no longer take year after year of below inflation pay increases which have had a major impact on the value of their pay since 2010.”
The NEU has formally asked Malthouse to use his powers under section 14 of the 2002 education act, which allows the government to give financial assistance to schools for staff pay and to promote recruitment and retention.
Courtney urged the education secretary to “take this issue seriously and to act urgently”.
“Failure to do so will ensure that we have an understaffed education system that will fail children and young people. It is in the Government’s hands, and we hope for a swift resolution.”
It comes after teaching union NASUWT also warned it would have “no other alternative than to ballot to support industrial action” if a better deal is not put forward.
Responding to Gullis’s comments at the Conservative Party conference, NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said it was “regrettable that the schools minister…appears to have ruled out the prospect of genuine negotiations”.
“Any serious approach toward negotiations must involve exploring all options, but the minister has instead insisted that the government will not budge or change its position over this year’s pay award proposals.
“Ministers are leaving us with no other alternative than to ballot our members to support industrial action in response to the cuts to teachers’ pay.”