NASUWT and NEU to ballot school staff for strikes over pay

Two unions representing hundreds of thousands of school staff prepare for formal ballots over government pay proposals

Two unions representing hundreds of thousands of school staff prepare for formal ballots over government pay proposals

The NASUWT teaching union and National Education Union will both ballot members in schools for strike action over the government’s pay proposals.

NASUWT, which has just over 300,000 teacher members, said its ballot followed ministers’ “failure” to give teachers and heads a “fully-funded real-terms pay award of 12 per cent”.

The NEU, which represents around 450,000 educators, will formally ballot teacher and support staff members. It had given the education secretary Kit Malthouse until today to announce a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise, but said it had received no answer.

An indicative ballot of 261,522 teachers in the NEU found 86 per cent supported strike action on a 62 per cent turnout. A separate ballot of support staff had a turnout of 68 per cent, and 78 per cent said they would vote to strike.

Since 2016, ballots for industrial action have had to reach a 50 per cent turnout threshold, and 40 per cent of eligible members must vote in favour for strikes to go ahead.

If the results of the indicative NEU ballots are repeated at a formal ballot then strikes would be approved.

NASUWT, which did not hold an indicative ballot, has recommended that its members in schools and sixth form colleges vote in favour of both strike action and action short of a strike.

Ballot papers will be issued to the union’s members from October 27, and the vote will close on January 9.

A formal timetable for the NEU ballot will be announced “in the coming week”.

Ministers announced in July that most teachers and leaders would get a rise of 5 per cent, though starting salaries will increase by closer to 9 per cent. Inflation currently stands at 9.9 per cent.

School staff ‘cannot go on like this’

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said the union had done “everything possible to seek a resolution to this dispute and to avoid escalation of industrial action in schools and colleges”.

“The government has failed to recognise the damaging impact of years of real terms pay cuts on the morale of teachers and which is fuelling the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.”

He said the pay award was “unacceptable” and below inflation, and would result in “even more financial misery for hard working teachers”.

NEU joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said the result of its indicative ballot “is a clear statement from teachers that they cannot go on like this”.

“Our members don’t want to strike – they want to be in the classroom, doing what they do best, educating the nation’s children. 

“It is regrettable that we have reached this point, but enough is enough. A yes vote will be our recommendation in the ballot, and we will use that mandate to demand from government a serious answer to more than a decade of declining pay. It is time not only to value education but to value educators.”

‘Ministers will be responsible’ for strike action

Roach also demanded additional funding for schools to “ensure that this year’s pay award does not become a lottery for teachers”.

“Teaching is at the bottom of the graduate pay league table. Teachers need and deserve a fully funded pay award which will begin the process of restoring the real terms value of teachers’ pay.

“Ministers will be entirely responsible for industrial action unless they act immediately to deliver a better pay deal for teachers.”

The NEU has already committed to a formal ballot of members in sixth form colleges after 85 per cent backed strike action in an indicative ballot with a 76 per cent turnout.

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