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Union opts against strikes over pay

The National Union of Teachers has decided against strike action over its ongoing pay dispute, despite its members voting in favour of a walkout.

A ballot of 250,000 teachers came back with a slim majority in favour of strike action, with 52 per cent voting in support.

But with a turnout of fewer than 30 per cent and a worsening economic climate, the NUT's executive realised it was in a weak position to press ahead with industrial action.

"We did not feel that we had a strong enough mandate to strike," said one executive member who did not want to be named.

"But just because we have decided against it doesn't mean that teachers think they are well paid all of a sudden."

The union is protesting against a below-inflation pay deal that gave teachers a 2.45 per cent pay rise this year, with 2.3 per cent rises to follow in 2009 and 2010.

A ballot earlier in the year led to the first national walkout in 21 years when teachers went on strike in April.

Christine Blower, the NUT's acting general secretary, said it would continue its campaign for better pay.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families welcomed the union's decision, saying parents would be relieved that their children's education would not be disrupted.

Full reports, pages 16-17

RESULT OF THE NUT STRIKE BALLOT

YES: 51.72%

NO: 48.28%.

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