A union leader has said they “need to hear specific proposals” from the government to settle their dispute over pay after education secretary Gillian Keegan called fresh crunch talks.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said while he welcomed the “opportunity to meet again” with the government, his union “now needs to hear specific proposals…which will address our members’ concerns”.
Union bosses are due to meet Keegan tomorrow, resuming crunch talks over pay and school funding that took place ahead of the walkout on February 1 of members of the National Education Union.
The education secretary has been criticised for her refusal to discuss improvements to this year’s pay deal, over which the NEU, NASUWT and NAHT all remain in dispute with the government.
NASUWT’s own ballot for strike action fell below the legal turnout threshold required, but Roach has said he will go back to his members if a settlement is not been reached. The NAHT, which also missed the threshold, has said the same.
Roach said after a “number of meetings, it is unacceptable that ministers have still failed to come forward with any proposals for our members to consider”.
“Our members’ patience is being sorely tested. Further dithering and delay will only deepen the anger of teachers who are enduring excessive workload pressures coupled with the largest real-terms cuts to their pay on record.”
‘Ministers cannot continue to play for time’
He said resolution of the dispute “can only be achieved if ministers are prepared to put proposals on the table which can provide a basis for negotiation and agreement”.
“Ministers cannot continue to play for time. We need to see concrete proposals from the government which can form the basis for a negotiated settlement of this dispute.”
The DfE said it hoped for “constructive” talks.
It comes after the NEU put Keegan “on notice” to “change her stance” and start proper pay negotiations or face millions of pupils missing school again through further teacher strikes.
The union claimed around 300,000 teachers went on strike on February 1. Its next scheduled walkout in England is due to take place on February 28.
Keegan is also now under increased pressure to reach a resolution after this week’s strike in Wales was suspended following an improved pay offer by the Welsh government.
Ministers in Cardiff offered teachers an extra 1.5 per cent increase in base pay over and above the 5 per cent agreed last year, and a further one-off payment of 1.5 per cent.
NEU general secretary Kevin Courtney told Schools Week last week that his union “will consider any serious offer made by the UK government but we are waiting for negotiations to start”.