Teacher’s Strike Will ‘Fall on Tele’ as a result of the ballot box

University and college staff strike for pay and retirement in front of Kings Cross station on November 30, 2022 in London, United Kingdom.

University and college staff strike for pay and retirement in front of Kings Cross station on November 30, 2022 in London, United Kingdom.

University and college staff strike for pay and retirement in front of Kings Cross station on November 30, 2022 in London, United Kingdom.

HuffPost UK understands that a strike vote by Britain’s largest education union will go “to the end”.

The National Education Association (NEU), which represents around 450,000 teaching staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is holding an official vote now calling for “a fully funded, above-inflation salary increase” after a decade of eroded wages.

If it passes, it will join the current wave of industrial action made up of teachers, nurses, railroad workers, ambulance workers and civil servants.

A pre-vote by the NEU in October showed strong support among teachers and support staff for industrial action to get pay raises – but there are fears that participation in the official mail vote was blocked by Royal Mail strikes and bad weather.

Under the Union Act, NEU members are bound by higher turnout thresholds to force strike action.

The union must ensure a 50% turnout on ballots for both teachers and support staff. About 40% of those who have the right to vote must strike action to continue.

A source close to the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which represents unions in England and Wales, told HuffPost UK: “The outcome will be very close in terms of engagement.

“NEU could meet the threshold or not – everything will be up to the point.

“The fact that the NEU is on the verge of this historic outcome despite the colossal hurdles of the Union Law shows how angry teachers are at their treatment and NEU’s awesome data-led operation.”

They added: “It’s true that the situation at Royal Mail may delay some votes and that could get it very close, so individual votes will matter.”

The return of teachers to strike action would create another headache for the government, which has so far refused to back down from union wage demands, and raise the possibility that devastating strikes will continue for months.

Just this week, the government is battling a series of damaging strikes by the RMT and Aslef rail unions that began on January 3 and will conclude on Saturday.

Nurses, who also laid off their jobs for two days in December, will go on strike on January 18 and 19 unless negotiations are opened.

And in Scotland, primary teachers will go out on January 10 and secondary teachers on January 11, with more strikes planned for later in the month and into February.

The average first grade teacher in the UK currently earns £38,200, increasing to £41,600 for a middle grade teacher.

Primary school principals usually take home £67,400, which increases to £94,900 for the average secondary school.

The government has offered most teachers a 5% pay increase from the original 3% offer for this year. Newly qualified will receive an 8.9% salary increase to meet the Ministry of Education’s (DfE) commitment to increase starting salaries to £30,000 by 2023.

However, teaching unions argue that salary quotes are a real-time pay cut given the inflation rate is 10.7%. Research by the NEU estimates its members have lost a minimum of £64,350 in earnings since 2010.

Last year, the NEU’s indicative ballot paper revealed that 86% of teachers were ready to strike to demand a pay rise, with a turnout of 62%.

A separate vote by school support staff also strongly supported a strike over wages, with 92% rejecting the government’s offer and 78% supporting industrial action.

The NEU’s official postal voting will end on January 13 next year, with strikes potentially occurring towards the end of the month.

Other teaching unions, the National Association of Head Teachers Women’s Association (NASUWT) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), are also holding strike ballots for members in England and Wales that expire on January 9 and 11, respectively.

Sources in the education sector have expressed concern that strikes by the Communications Workers Union (CWU), whose members work for the Royal Mail, are causing some members to not receive their ballots on time and potentially disrupting turnout.

The CWU has yet to announce strike dates for 2023, but has staged walkouts over the Christmas period, including on Christmas Eve, amid a fierce dispute with Royal Mail over salary.

If the participation threshold is reached and strike action is approved, around 24,000 schools in England and Wales could be forced to close as children are sent home.

“The knock-on effect on parents and wider society will be enormous,” the source said.

“The government can continue to act as if there is no problem or to fix it. Teachers are fed up with what has happened to education since 2010, and their emotional power is high.”

A NEU spokesperson said the union is confident that strike action thresholds will be met and members can reissue any lost mail ballots.

“The NEU supports the CWU and the postal workers’ strike,” they said.

“Despite the unfair threshold set by the government for the continuation of strike action, we are confident that our members will vote within the margins necessary for the action to take place. The NEU voting for strike action for a fully funded wage increase closes on January 13, and the results will be out soon, most likely on January 16.

“We will not have final figures until this date. The fact that the union’s electronic indicator vote received an overwhelming yes vote that led the union to move forward with an official vote is indicative of the anger felt by teachers and support staff.”

They added: “Teachers and support staff have lost more than 20% in salaries since 2010, with successive below-inflation raises. Many are leaving the profession. Government recruitment targets are missed each year, and about a third of teachers leave within the first five years of entering the profession. Something has to change.

“The government should start negotiating in good faith with education unions to ensure that children get the education they deserve, and teachers and support staff should be paid fairly for the vital role they play.

“We don’t want to have to take this action and we call on the government to negotiate. It’s the government’s gift to prevent these strikes with a new proposal for a fully funded pay raise.”

In response, sources at the DfE said plans are being put in place to minimize any disruption if strikes occur.

They said the best way to make more money in schools is for the government to fight inflation and deprive schools of the “resource management” available to them.

They also cited £5bn in funding to help children recover from learning lost in the wake of the pandemic, including more than £1bn for the national education programme.

A DfE spokesperson said: “There are no great schools without great teachers, which is why we award the highest salary awards in a generation – including a 5% increase in the starting salary for experienced teachers and more for those early in their careers. more than .

“We are also investing £2bn in schools next year and £2bn the following year, raising school finances to the highest level ever.

“After two years of interrupted education for young people, strike action is certainly not a responsible solution.”

The CWU has been contacted for comment.


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