Teachers threaten strikes unless they receive huge pay rise

·3-min read
Teachers unions joined a TUC march across London on Saturday to protest the cost-of-living crisis  (PA Wire)
Teachers unions joined a TUC march across London on Saturday to protest the cost-of-living crisis (PA Wire)

Teacher unions have threatened strike action unless they receive inflation-busting pay rises because members “cannot survive” on current salaries.

Two key education unions have announced that they will ballot members over industrial action unless significant wage increases are offered later this year.

The NASUWT teachers’ union wants a 12 per cent salary bump or it will ballot members in November.

The National Education Union (NEU) will write to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi on Wednesday, when inflation is predicted to increase again, and demand a pay grows at least in line with the rise.

It comes as doctors, nurses, civil servants, postal workers, BT engineers and traffic wardens also threatened industrial action over spiraling costs and cuts.

Criminal barristers added to the growing wave by announcing a vote in favour of a series of “days of action” starting from next Monday and continuing over the following weeks.

The strikes, which will begin with a protest outside the Old Bailey, will also include a policy of accepting no new cases and no “returns” of work passed on by colleagues and appears certain to add to the already large trial backlog.

The barristers are demanding a 25 per cent increase in their fees, which they argue have been significantly eroded in real terms over recent years, as well as further government action to address what they say is a “crisis” affecting their profession.

Nursing unions have demanded salary rises that are 5 per cent above inflation, which is forecast to reach 11 per cent this year, or they will ballot members over industrial action.

A series of crippling strikes at Network Rail and 13 train operators will go ahead this week amid an ongoing dispute over pay and pensions.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said today that its members had suffered a drop in their wages “by about a fifth since 2010”.

“They were thanked for the pandemic in 2021 with a pay freeze,” she told BBC Radio 4.

“Our members are now telling us they simply cannot carry on the salaries they are getting, given the work that they do. We are the profession that works the greatest amount of overtime unpaid.”

She added: “We will be putting a figure in the letter to the Secretary of State on Wednesday. We need at least a pay rise that matches inflation.”

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said teachers must see 12 per cent added to wages.

“If the Government and the pay review body reject a positive programme of restorative pay awards for teachers, then we will be asking our members whether they are prepared to take national industrial action in response,” he said.

The average classroom teacher is paid between £25,714 and £41,604. For those working at schools in inner London this rises to between £29,664 and £40,372.

The unions, which collectively represent more than 760,000 workers, will hold an indicative survey to gage support for strike action later this year if their demands are not met.

This would be followed by a formal ballot if the first result suggests members support strike action.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said the Government cannot fund “inflation busting pay increases” because it will “drive the problem we’re trying to solve”.

When asked about the pay review, which is going on for public workers, he told Sky News: “It sets it sets an overall framework which is important for employers to understand which is obviously public sector pay discipline really matters here.

“We have an inflation problem in this country as indeed is common across the western world after the pandemic, if we don’t want that problem to either intensify or prolong itself then we need to be sensible around pay awards.

“If we give awards which are above inflation in this landscape then we are in a really difficult place in terms of bringing down inflation.”

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