Teachers move closer to strike action after voting to fight for higher pay

Teachers strike and march through Portsmouth city centre in 2014
Teachers strike and march through Portsmouth city centre in 2014
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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Teachers in England have moved a step forward towards possible widespread strikes after voting in favour of action to secure increased pay.

Members of the NASUWT union, meeting at its annual conference in Birmingham, voted unanimously in favour of considering the use of rolling industrial action if the government fails to ensure a better pay deal for workers.

Teachers have not had a pay rise above one per cent in the last seven years due to the government’s austerity measures. Other public sector workers have also been affected.

Introducing the motion, Steve Thompson, a teacher from Leeds, said: ‘It’s clear to all why there is a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession.

‘There is only one way to address this - the pay cap must be lifted.

‘It’s clear that a substantial, above inflation rise in teachers’ pay is required and is long overdue.’

Martin Hudson, from Newcastle upon Tyne, called on colleagues to ‘pull up our socks’ and ‘send a very clear message to everyone’.

‘We’ve had enough - we need to demand and secure a well-deserved and substantial pay rise for teachers. Conference, we need to effectively challenge seven years of derisory pay awards.’

Lincoln-based teacher Daniel Carvalho, who arrived in the UK in 2015, brought levity to the conference when he told delegates to take advantage of staff shortages.

He said: ‘I got a pay rise - not because I’m an outstanding teacher, I’m far from that. Trust me, I can show you my lesson observations.

‘I told my line manager once: “I know I’m not indispensable - but I can guarantee I get a job faster than you can find another teacher”.

‘If we do not demand a pay rise now, forget about it.’

The unanimous vote means the NASUWT’s executive will meet at a later date and decide whether to ballot members on the use of rolling strike action.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) section of the National Education Union (NEU), who are meeting in Brighton, are due to discuss a similar issue during their conference.

In 2016, thousands of schools were closed as teachers staged a strike over funding.

Staff across England took part in rallies and marches, including a huge gathering outside the Houses of Parliament, to attack government policy.

A Department for Education statement read: ‘We have a record 15,500 more teachers in our classrooms than in 2010, and this generation of teachers is better qualified than ever before.

‘The average teacher’s salary stands at £37,400 outside of London, rising to £41,900 in the capital.

‘It is thanks to these teachers’ hard work and our reforms that 1.9 million more children are being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010.

‘We have already given schools freedom over staff pay and have asked the independent School Teachers’ Review Body to take account of the Government’s flexible approach to public sector pay as they develop their recommendation.

‘We want to continue to attract and keep the best and brightest people in our schools.

‘That’s why the Education Secretary recently announced a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers, working with the unions and professional bodies, and pledged to strip away workload that doesn’t add value in the classroom.’