Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Teachers to stage rolling strikes

Schoolteachers are set to walk out in a row over pay, pensions and workload

Teachers are planning a national walkout this autumn, potentially closing thousands of schools, amid a deepening row over pay, pensions and workload.

Two teaching unions announced a rolling programme of strikes, which will begin in the North West on June 27. More are set to follow in the autumn term, with the stage set for a national strike before Christmas.

The action would affect most schools across England and Wales at some point in the next few months. The move, announced by England's two biggest teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT, is an escalation of a continuing dispute with the Government.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said it was "very disappointed" the unions had decided to strike.

Both unions have already been taking part in industrial action, short of stoppages, but NUT general secretary Christine Blower insisted that they have had no engagement by Education Secretary Michael Gove over the dispute.

She said: "We have decided we must make an announcement that we will move to strike action in a bid to get the Secretary of State to listen seriously, and to seek to achieve a resolution in this dispute." There will also be a series of rallies in England and Wales, Ms Blower said.

The unions have put a new list of demands to Mr Gove. It calls for him to suspend the introduction of performance-related pay, due to be brought in later this year, and to publish an evaluation of the Teachers' Pension Scheme. The unions also want Mr Gove to "commit to genuine engagement" by setting up a series of meetings to discuss the dispute.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "We have three very reasonable demands that we are making to the Secretary of State that can stop disruption to schools from June onwards. The time has come for the Secretary of State to listen to the concerns of teachers and school leaders. He has recklessly pursued a relentless attack on the profession and teachers' patience has been exhausted."

A DfE spokesman said: "We are very disappointed that the NUT and NASUWT have decided to take strike action, which less than a quarter of teachers actually voted for. Industrial action will disrupt pupils' education, hugely inconvenience parents and damage the profession's reputation in the eyes of the public at a time when our reforms are driving up standards across the country.

"We think giving schools the freedom to reward good performance is much fairer than current arrangements which see the vast majority of teachers automatically getting a pay rise each year. We have met frequently with the NUT and NASUWT to discuss their concerns and will continue to do so."

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