‘No justice’ in pay freeze for Covid's hero teachers

NEU leaders accuse education secretary Gavin Williamson of wanting teachers 'on the cheap'

Catherine Lough

Covid: ‘No justice’ in pay freeze for ‘hero’ teachers, says the NEU

Teachers' leaders have warned there is "no justice" for the profession because of a proposed "pause" on pay rises in spite of teachers' hard work during the pandemic.

Speaking at the NEU teaching union's annual conference today, joint general secretary Mary Bousted said teachers had "gone beyond the extra mile" and described them as "heroes".

"There is no justice in these [real-terms] pay cuts," she said.

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"We know the truth when we see it and the truth is that this government was fulsome in its praise of the public sector – for nurses and doctors, for teachers and leaders – when it was desperate.

Teacher pay: School staff 'have gone beyond the extra mile during Covid'

"But when things get back to a new normal – because of nurses and doctors and teachers and leaders – it reverts to type. We see you, Boris Johnson. We see you, Gavin Williamson. And we don’t like what we see."

She added: "Teachers, leaders and support staff have gone beyond the extra mile in this pandemic. They have stepped into the wasteland of public services decimated by austerity, rolled up their sleeves and worked to protect the most vulnerable.

"They are heroes and they should be treated as heroes. As should our other key workers."

The NEU's other joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said that in education secretary Gavin Williamson's letter to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), he had acknowledged the "huge contribution" that teachers and school leaders had made when responding to the "unprecedented challenges" of Covid-19.

"[Mr Williamson] praised their ‘extraordinary dedication’," Mr Courtney said. "He then went on to argue that their pay should be cut. Gavin, don’t think that we haven’t noticed. We have. Words are cheap. And you want teachers and lecturers on the cheap. You want teaching assistants on the cheap. You want supply teachers on the cheap.

"We are not fooled by your talk of a ‘pay pause’. Let’s call it out for what it is, Gavin – a [real-terms] pay cut."

Mr Courtney said this was a real-terms pay cut for "the professionals who you relied upon to educate the nation’s pupils remotely", adding that teachers had completely transformed their practice in using new technology "with no CPD".

Earlier this week, the NEU voted to demand a pay rise for teachers of at least 7 per cent for 2021 – and said it would “build towards” a ballot for national strike action if its demand was not met.


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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