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Primary Education News
News Teaching unions announce summer strikes
National Union of Teachers and NASUWT say they will begin rolling programme of strikes over pay, pensions and workload
Hundreds of thousands of teachers will stage a series of strikes this June in a continuing row over pay, pensions and workload.
The UK's biggest teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT, whose joint membership comes to more than 400,000, said they would begin a "rolling programme of national strikes" starting in north-west England on 27 June.
The strikes will take place after GCSE and A-level exams and could continue into the autumn term, including a one-day national strike, unless Michael Gove, the education secretary, "responds positively to the unions' demands".
The unions will continue their work-to-rule action, which began in September. As part of this, teachers have refused to invigilate exams or supervise pupils in lunch breaks. The unions will also hold rallies in April and May.
The action is in protest at pay freezes, increased workload and rising pension contributions.
Ministers have called the action irresponsible and urged heads to dock the pay of any teachers involved. The government has enlisted a firm of solicitors to advise schools on how to react.
A spokeswoman from the Department for Education said the strikes would disrupt pupils' education. "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," she said. "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."
On Monday Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the "time had come for the secretary of state to listen to the concerns of teachers and school leaders". She added: "He has recklessly pursued a relentless attack on the profession and teachers' patience has been exhausted."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said if there was no positive response from Gove, the joint strike action would be inevitable. "We have already rejected the new pension arrangements and the proposed deregulation of teachers' pay. The attacks on pay and pensions in combination with increasing workload is making teaching an unsustainable option for many."
Teaching unions staged a national walkout in November as part of a wider public sector strike on pensions.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she shared the concerns of the NUT and NASUWT but her members had shown no appetite for strike action.
"The coalition government has been no friend of teachers … But our members want us to continue to lobby government and continue to forge links with parents and other groups [rather than strike]," she said. "If our members do intimate that they are willing to take industrial action, we would of course respond to that."
She said teacher morale was low because school staff were made to perform tasks that were not productive and were purely for inspectors and to prove schools were accountable.