Sixth form teachers' strike to go ahead after court ruling
A strike by teachers at sixth form colleges in England on Tuesday can go ahead, the High Court has ruled.
The industrial action planned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will continue after Mr Justice Kerr refused to grant the Secretary of State for Education an urgent declaration that it was unlawful.
In last month's ballot, 86% of members at the 92 colleges in England voted in favour of action on a 44% turnout.
Clive Sheldon QC, for the Secretary of State, said that the action was unlawful because it was not in furtherance of a trade dispute as it was not predominantly about terms and conditions of employment.
There was no current dispute between the NUT and the colleges, the teachers' employers, as a pay claim was settled at the end of February.
Instead it was about funding cuts and part of the union's political campaign "Save Our Colleges", said the Government's counsel.
After a day of argument, the judge said that the balance came down against granting the declaration.
The judge said that the likely outcome at any trial of the issue was that the NUT's strategy was to protect terms and conditions by shoring up the sixth form college sector - rather than shoring it up as an end itself.
The NUT's members' main concern was their perception that, if the colleges died, their jobs died with them.
On the other hand, a strike would cause severe disruption to the education of students, their parents, the governing bodies and non-teaching staff.
NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: "The High Court's decision is a victory for democracy and common sense. It is abundantly clear that Government cuts to sixth form college funding are having a direct impact on our members' terms and conditions and as such we are entitled to take strike action.
"Sixth form colleges provide a vital service to over 150,000 young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds. Yet Government funding cuts mean many of those services will soon be financially unviable. The cuts will result in a further loss of courses, job losses and increased class sizes.
"It is regrettable that the Government has not attempted to resolve the dispute. No one wants to take strike action but this is a serious issue that is getting increasingly worse. The NUT has been left with no option but to raise awareness of the problem through industrial action. Nicky Morgan's challenge to the legitimacy of our strike action has just made that job easier."