This issue will only be resolved by negotiation

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Teachers may not be the only public sector workers going on strike today, but their participation is likely to be by far the most visible.

While driving test examiners may not show up for work and UK Border Agency staff join the strike, their absence will have nothing like the effect of schools across our region being closed.

Many parents will have been forced to take last-minute leave or hurriedly arrange childcare once they discovered their sons or daughter would not be in the classroom today.

Clearly, there are extremely strong feelings among teachers that they are being treated unfairly by the government and its proposals for them to work until they are 68, pay 50 per cent more pension contributions and receive a smaller pension based on average rather than final salary earnings.

That is underlined by the fact that the NUT is being joined in the industrial action by members of the more moderate Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) – hardly the sort to strike unless they felt it to be the last resort to get their argument across.

The issue of teacher pay and conditions may yet be the biggest one faced by the coalition.

But its position at the moment seems to be one of a waving an admonishing finger at the teachers and all other public sector employees who have decided to withdraw their labour, telling them they are wrong to do so and saying the issue will take time to resolve.

But that hasn’t stopped the industrial action. If anything, it’s an attitude that has only served to make positions more entrenched.

The government may be urging headteachers to ensure their schools stay open, but the headteachers’ union (NAHT) has voted overwhelmingly in favour of balloting its members on joining in further strikes that have been forecast.

We think the government needs to take stock and have a reality check.

Because the only way this dispute will ever be resolved is if the parties involved get round the negotiating table and find a way forward.