Teachers to take national strike action over pay and conditions

Without significant change to working conditions, the recruitment and retention crisis will deepen, warns NUT

Eleanor Busby

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Teachers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a national strike against funding cuts, deregulation of pay and academisation. 

The action will take place at schools across the country on Tuesday, July 5 after members of the NUT teaching union backed a strike. 

In the NUT's ballot – which ran for a month – 91.7 per cent of participants voted in favour of taking action. 

The strike demands are to increase funding for schools and education, to guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools and to resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.

'There is worse to come'

Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the NUT, said: “In light of the huge funding cuts to schools, worsening terms and conditions and unmanageable and exhausting workloads, teachers cannot be expected to go on without significant change.

“The effects on children’s education are also real and damaging. As a result of school funding cuts, class sizes in primary and secondary schools are increasing, subject choices are being cut, and children are getting less individual attention as teachers and support staff are made redundant or not replaced when they leave.

"There is worse to come, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicting that the biggest real-terms cuts to per pupil funding in a generation are on the way.

He added: “There is already a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in our schools. Without significant change to the pay and working condition of teachers, this will simply deepen. We know that many parents share our concerns."

Turn out less than 25 per cent

Turn-out for the ballot was 24.5 per cent. It will soon be impossible for a union to take lawful industrial action on such a low percentage of members voting.

The new Trade Union Act, which was passed last month but has yet to come into force, will require at least 50 per cent of a teacher union's members to vote in a ballot and 40 per cent to say yes, for action to go ahead. Currently industrial action is legal as long as the majority of those taking part in a ballot vote in favour.

However the law could be amended to allow electronic voting which Mr Courtney expects would enable the NUT to meet the new threshold.

Strike on Sats results day

The Department for Education (DfE) has branded the NUT "irresponsible" for calling a strike on the same day as the KS2 Sats results are released to schools.

But Mr Courtney said: "Most schools give the results out in children’s annual reports. This will not be impeded by the action on July 5."  

A DfE spokesperson said: "It is disappointing the National Union of Teachers has chosen to take unnecessary and damaging strike action, which less than a quarter of its members voted for. It is even more disappointing when we have offered and committed to formal talks between ministers and the unions to address their concerns about pay. 

“Industrial action causes disruption to children’s education and parents who have to take time out of work to arrange childcare, we urge the NUT not to proceed with this strike and to resolve pay disputes at the negotiating table rather than playing politics with children's futures."

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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