Michael Gove warns Portsmouth teachers: ‘Don’t expect any reward for strike action’

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Michael Gove has told ‘militant’ teachers they will get no reward by going on strike.

The secretary of state for education sounded his warning as he paid a visit to three schools in the city yesterday.

NUT members protest as ''Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education visits Mayfield School in North End, Portsmouth''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (132949-7314)

NUT members protest as ''Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education visits Mayfield School in North End, Portsmouth''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (132949-7314)

As part of the visit, he has faced up to unions in the light of strike action last week.

Teachers walked out in a dispute over pay, pensions and workload.

Last night, the NUT and the NASUWT unions announced that a one day national strike has been suspended after Mr Gove agreed to hold talks.

Speaking to The News yesterday, he said: ‘I know that no one takes the decision to strike lightly. But I do think that we are in a position now where we can talk to the unions.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove

‘We can make sure that any lingering concerns that their members have can be fairly addressed so that we can make sure every teacher does what they want to do which is to concentrate on helping children.

‘We have regular meetings with all the unions. But it’s important to stress that no one should think that because a union goes on strike that it gets any special concessions.

‘I am always happy to talk to all the unions all the time.

‘But I want to make sure that all teachers are treated fairly and that there’s no reward for militancy.’

Unions said strike action could still happen by February 13 if the talks don’t progress.

Amanda Martin, secretary for the Portsmouth branch of the NUT, said: ‘We are delighted that he welcomes us and that he’s open to having talks.

‘It’s very timely that we have taken this strike action and a week later he’s opening up talks. Strike action is the last resort and I think he’s scared. I think he’s decided he has to listen to us.

‘He may be saying militancy but he’s very ideological.

‘He doesn’t want to be seen as turning round and changing his mind because we’ve gone on strike.’

Belinda Davis, divisional secretary for the Hampshire NUT, protested outside Mayfield yesterday.

She added: ‘He’s saying that they won’t reward bad behaviour. But we had to do something we didn’t like so we could sit down and reach some sort of agreement. Then when we’ve done that we can move forward together.’

Michael Gove has vowed to fight for education in an interview here with our education reporter Ruth Scammell.

‘It’s not only militants on the education protest lines’: Read The News Comment on this issue