Teachers balloted over strike action

Teachers in England and Wales will vote on strike action as the government continues to face opposition to public sector pay deals.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) will ballot its members over a one-day strike, in what would be the union’s first mass walkout for two decades.

NUT general secretary Steve Sinnott said he was “very confident” members would back industrial action, but stressed the objective was to protect teachers’ living standards not to strike.

The government has offered teachers a 2.45 per cent pay rise this year, with 2.3 per cent pay rises the following two years.

This is based on the guidance of the independent School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations on teachers’ pay.

But the NUT claims the pay award is below inflation, arguing recent pay rises have been wiped out by the rising cost of living.

The union points to the retail price index, which includes rent and mortgages and records inflation at four per cent.

Ministers use the consumer price index, which stands at a more modest 2.1 per cent, when discussing inflation.

Gordon Brown has insisted all public sector pay deals must be in line with the government’s two per cent inflation target.

Mr Sinnott said he called on the government to “think again” and ensure teachers’ salaries could pace with inflation.

He said: “During the last 30 years our schools have suffered from ‘boom and bust’ pay policies.

“Teachers’ pay has improved in recent years and so too has recruitment and retention. There must be no return to teacher shortages and to pay levels that sap morale.

“To bring the best young graduates into the profession, teachers’ salaries need to be competitive with those for graduates in the private sector.”

Ballot papers will be sent to NUT members at the end of February, with strike action planned for April 24th.