Strike ban would be a 'kindness'

30th May 2008 at 01:00
Calls are being made for teachers to be banned from taking industrial action, as the National Union of Teachers considers further strikes
Calls are being made for teachers to be banned from taking industrial action, as the National Union of Teachers considers further strikes.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, said the Government should stop teachers from taking industrial action as a "kindness".

"Teachers don't seem to realise that they're shooting themselves in the foot by striking, so it would be good if the Government took the decision to ban it for them," he said.

The Centre for Policy Studies, a centre-right think tank, said schools should be allowed to fire staff who went on strike.

Jill Kirby, its director, said: "If you have a teacher who is not sufficiently committed, who wants to strike and deny children an education, schools should be allowed to permanently replace them."

The calls coincide with moves to limit strikes in France, by forcing teachers to provide a "minimum service" (see panel).

In Britain, a change this month made it illegal for prison officers - like the military - to go on strike. The police have a no-strike rule, but voted this month to abandon it over pay.

The NUT decided last week to consider balloting for further strike action in the autumn. Its members walked out for a day last month in protest at a 2.45 per cent pay rise, which they said effectively amounted to a pay cut.

Christine Blower, acting general secretary, said the NUT would work with other public sector unions to "bring the Government to its senses".

"When other avenues are exhausted and fail to produce an appropriate response, strike action is justifiable," she said.

The Government, while insisting the pay deal is fair and condemning last month's action, has acknowledged teachers' right to strike.

The Conservative Party said such strikes were "wrong", though its policy would not ban them.

Policy Exchange, a think tank close to the Conservative leadership, said banning strikes was an imposition on people's liberties.

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