Teacher strikes

NEU suspends strike in Wales following 6.5% pay offer

Welsh government's offer, which also includes a 1.5% one-off payment, puts Keegan under further pressure to avert strikes

Welsh government's offer, which also includes a 1.5% one-off payment, puts Keegan under further pressure to avert strikes

The National Education Union has suspended planned strike action in Wales next week, after the Welsh government increased their pay offer to 6.5 per cent with an additional 1.5 per cent one-off payment.

Teachers in Wales had been due to walk out again next Tuesday in a dispute over pay and school funding.

The NEU has demanded a fully-funded, above inflation rise for all teachers in England and Wales, but the current pay deal is worth just 5 per cent to most teachers.

However, the union has now suspended next week’s action after the Welsh government offered an additional 1.5 per cent increase in base pay, plus a 1.5 per cent “lump sum”.

If accepted, the deal would mean teachers’ pay would increase by 8 per cent this year, but with only a 6.5 per cent increase in base pay that would then affect future years.

It will put further pressure on UK education secretary Gillian Keegan to reach a deal with unions in a similar dispute.

The UK government has warned larger pay rises are unaffordable and could risk baking-in inflation, and has so far refused to discuss any improvement to this year’s pay deal in crunch talks with unions.

Leaders have said ministers have until February 28, the next planned date of strike action in England, to strike a deal.

Wales talks ‘in stark contrast’ with England dispute

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the “willingness of the Welsh government to engage in talks” with unions was “in stark contrast to the position taken by Westminster” and Keegan.

He said the NEU’s executive “will consider any serious offer made by the UK government but we are waiting for negotiations to start”.

“We wrote to the secretary of state on Monday calling for her to enter into serious and sustained negotiations. She has not responded.

“If the government wants to prevent the next strikes, which start on 28 February, they need to start negotiations quickly and make a real offer.”

Courtney said the offer in Wales “remains significantly below our members’ demands, and does not begin to address the real terms cuts visited upon teachers since 2010”.

But he said the union “will consult with our branches and workplace representatives to secure the views of members in Wales”.

“In the meantime, next Tuesday’s strike action will be postponed until March 2. Meanwhile, we will continue to press for a fully consolidated award and to seek an offer in respect of support staff members, who have also provided a clear mandate for action.” 

NEU secures 6.4% deal at Sunak’s old school

It comes after the NEU announced it had secured an average pay rise of 6.4 per cent for teachers at the private Winchester College, the alma mater of prime minister Rishi Sunak.

A ballot for strike action at the school over pay and pensions changes resulted in an 82 per cent yes vote on a turnout of 77 per cent.

However, despite accepting the pay deal at Winchester, the NEU said it remained in dispute with the college over plans to close the teacher’s pension scheme to new entrants from this September.

Senior regional NEU officer Nick Childs said it was a “shame that it was necessary to ballot for strike action at Winchester College to agree what our members believe to be a fair and reasonable pay rise in the context of the current rates of inflation”.

“But we are very pleased that we have managed to do this without needing to resort to taking strike action.”

However, members felt “very strongly about the unresolved threat to the teachers’ pension scheme”.

“Winchester College seem to believe that they can offer an inferior package to new colleagues and that our members would stand idly by as long as their own terms are protected.”

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