Teachers oppose pay freeze with six in 10 supporting strike action

·3-min read

Most teachers oppose a pay freeze set by the Government for school staff.

In a survey by the Nasuwt teaching union ahead of its annual conference in Birmingham, the vast majority of respondents, 98%, said they disagreed with a pay freeze implemented by the Government for teachers and other public sector workers for 2021/22.

Out of over 10,700 respondents, over six in 10, 62%, said they would support a joint day of strike action with other education unions in support of pay increases, and around four in 10 members, 42%, said they would support more than one day of joint strike action over the issue.

A quarter of respondents, 25%, would support over one day of strike action with Nasuwt acting alone.

Just 15% said they would not be prepared to take any form of industrial action to campaign for more pay.

Most teachers, 80%, said Nasuwt should focus on campaigning for all teachers to get the same percentage pay rise, regardless of their experience, whereas just 28% said that the union should prioritise campaigning for teachers’ starting salaries to rise to £30,000.

In March this year, the Government called for teacher starting salaries to rise by over 16% over the next two years, to bring them up to £30,000 by September 2023.

The Department for Education has said in its submission to the School Teacher Review Body (STRB) that it wants statutory starting pay to increase by 8.9% this year and 7.1% next year.

But the proposed increases for more experienced staff are lower, and the Institute of Fiscal Studies has said that given rising levels of inflation, the proposals for teacher pay would see a real-terms cut of 5% for more experienced staff between 2021 and 2023.

A third of Nasuwt respondents, 33%, said that the union should prioritise campaigning for pay rises for more experienced teachers.

Nearly two thirds of those surveyed, 64%, said that they were “really angry” about pay, and felt that teachers were treated “unfairly” by the Government.

A teacher (PA)
A teacher (PA)

Over a third, 35%, said they were so “disillusioned” by their pay they wanted to leave the profession, and 21% said they were so angry about pay they felt industrial action was necessary.

A majority of teachers, 89%, said that they were somewhat or very worried about their financial situation.

Nasuwt found that seven in 10 teachers had considered leaving their job over the last 12 months, with nearly half stating that their pay was affecting their intention to leave.

They found that 54% of teachers had cut down on food spending and 40% had reduced spending on essential household items.

Over one in 10 said they had to take a second job to make ends meet while 1% said they had had to use a food bank.

On Saturday, Nasuwt voted to “mobilise members for national industrial action, up to and including strike action, in the event that any government or administration fails to deliver a programme of restorative pay awards for teachers”.

Nasuwt general secretary Patrick Roach said: “Over a decade of cuts to teachers pay cannot continue to be endured by the profession.

“Teachers are leaving the profession with many more seriously considering it and pay is one of the main reasons.

“We cannot allow the recruitment and retention crisis to continue and worsen, which is damaging children’s education.

“Governments and administrations must urgently secure the future of education by delivering a serious programme of increased pay awards.

“Conference has delivered a clear message that ministers will be responsible for any disruption caused by their failure to deliver an immediate programme of restorative pay awards for teachers.”

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