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Teachers to strike over pay and conditions

Published 23/06/2016

Members of the National Union of Teachers will walk out on July 5
Members of the National Union of Teachers will walk out on July 5

Teachers in England are to stage a one-day strike over pay and conditions.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will walk out on July 5 after voting by more than 9-1 in favour of industrial action.

The union said its demands were to increase funding to schools and education, guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools, and to resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.

Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the NUT, said: "The NUT is not taking action lightly.

"In light of the huge funding cuts to schools, worsening terms and conditions, and unmanageable and exhausting workloads, teachers cannot be expected to go on without significant change.

"The effects on children's education are also real and damaging.

"As a result of school funding cuts, class sizes in primary and secondary schools are increasing, subject choices are being cut, and children are getting less individual attention as teachers and support staff are made redundant or not replaced when they leave.

"There is worse to come, with the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicting that the biggest real-terms cuts to per-pupil funding in a generation are on the way."

Mr Courtney said there was already a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in schools, which he warned would get worse without "significant change" to the pay and working conditions of teachers.

He said many parents shared the union's concerns, adding: "At the absolute minimum, schools urgently need extra funding to meet the additional costs Government has put on them through increased National Insurance and pension payments.

"This amounts to a 5% charge on the teachers' pay bill for schools.

"George Osborne is freezing the cash per pupil he gives to schools, whilst increasing what he takes from them.

"For every 20 teachers employed, a school has to find an extra teacher salary to give to the Treasury.

"The commitment from Government to ensure all schools become academies will result in decisions on pay and working conditions, including maternity/paternity rights and sick pay, being made at school level.

"There is absolutely no evidence that this sort of deregulation will lead to higher standards.

"There needs to be a guarantee of good standards for teachers' terms and conditions across the board, in all schools.

"School leaders' attention should be on educating children, not squandering huge amounts of time on negotiating individual staff members' contracts."

The ballot was held among NUT members in England who are working in local authority schools.

Around 210,000 ballot papers were issued. Turnout was 24.5 %. The number voting yes was 47,218, with 4,285 voting no, a majority of 91.7%.

Mr Courtney told the Press Association he believed unions representing school support staff would be backing the NUT's action.

Funding cuts had "taken off " since the general election, he said.

"Class sizes are going up, teachers are not being replaced and subject choices are being lost."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "It is disappointing the National Union of Teachers has chosen to take unnecessary and damaging strike action, which less than a quarter of its members voted for.

"It is even more disappointing when we have offered and committed to formal talks between ministers and the unions to address their concerns about pay.

"Industrial action causes disruption to children's education and parents who have to take time out of work to arrange childcare.

"We urge the NUT not to proceed with this strike and to resolve pay disputes at the negotiating table rather than playing politics with children's futures."

Mr Courtney countered that the dispute was about much more than pay and accused the department of being "disingenuous. "

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