Politics

Gullis urges teachers to give ministers time on pay rather than strike

The schools minister also confirmed that new teacher salaries will rise to £30,000 next year

The schools minister also confirmed that new teacher salaries will rise to £30,000 next year

Schools minister Jonathan Gullis has signed off on boosting starting salaries for new teachers to £30,000 next year, and urged teachers to give ministers space to come up with a pay solution rather than go on strike.

Gullis said he has recommended to the school pay review body that new salaries are hiked again next year to deliver the government manifesto commitment.

Amid messaging from senior government ministers about cutting back department budgets, the promise to deliver £30,000 starting salaries by 2023 seemed potentially under threat.

The promise had already been delayed a year. A two-year plan to reach £30,000 starting salaries next year was ditched in favour of a one-year settlement for this year alone.

But Gullis confirmed today that government will go ahead as planned.

“It’s important we deliver on those commitments the people elected us to do,” he said at a NASUWT union fringe event.

It comes as unions consult members on their appetite to strike this year.

Unions want an inflation-matching pay rise, but experienced teachers got a five per cent pay increase this year.

Gullis said government “is not going to budge” on this.

But he said the school pay review body will now talk to the sector to inform its wider pay proposals for next year.

‘Allow room’ for negotiations

But he wants to “do everything I can to avoid any kind of industrial action. We need to remember very clearly a lot of children, particularly children in deprived areas have felt the impact of the pandemic. We’ve acknowledged the need to catch up as soon as possible.

“I just urge teachers to remember and think that if industrial action were to be taken, those pupils – particularly those that are vulnerable – not being in a classroom, where school sometimes is the safest place and missing out on learning… You cannot afford to waste a day in a child’s life. We just have to bear that in mind.”

Gullis, a former representative for the NASUWT union while a teacher, said he was “not saying teachers don’t have a right to take action. I’m asking to allow room to let those negotiations to happen for as long as humanly possible.

“Let us get to a place where all unions feel they can put an offer to their membership and then we can go from there.

“I’m asking for this period of calm for trade union leaders who are doing their job” and let himself and other ministers “hear the different ideas and see where we can try and find a position that people are ok with.

“No-ones ever going to be over the moon, but let’s get to a place where we can all be ok with where we’ve got to.”

But Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “It’s totally disingenuous of ministers to claim that they are delivering a pay award for teachers if they cannot guarantee that it will be delivered to teachers in reality.

“We have asked ministers to talk to us – to get around the table to find a resolution. But, they have dithered, delayed and failed to make this their priority.”

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  1. Just goes to show how worried ministers are about teacher’s strike action. They are stalling once again, this happens time after time because of their total ineptitude and disregard of what is happen at the coal face in schools. Maybe it is time to down tools.