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Teaching Union Will Wait for Government’s Pay Offer Before Starting Strike Vote

Teachers' Strike Protest (Credits: The Telegraph)

The National Education Union (NEU) members engaged in eight days of strike action in state schools across England last year due to a pay dispute. However, the union has decided to delay a formal ballot on strike action until it receives clarity on the Government’s pay offer for teachers starting in September.

During the annual conference of the NEU, the largest education union in the UK, delegates voted to conduct a “snap poll” first to gauge members’ views on the Government’s pay and funding offer for the upcoming academic year of 2024/25.

If the pay offer is rejected with a substantial turnout in the snap poll, the union will then move towards a formal ballot-on-strike action concerning pay and funding issues.

Three-day Teacher Strike (Credits: Jersey Evening Post)

The delay in moving to a formal ballot is primarily because the Government has not yet disclosed the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) recommendations or decided whether to accept them.

An amended urgent motion passed at the conference called for intensified campaigning and mobilization among NEU members before the Government’s pay offer and funding settlement.

This motion also emphasized the importance of presenting the pay and funding offer to members through a snap poll. If the offer is rejected convincingly in this poll, the union will proceed with a formal ballot on potential strike action.

The NEU’s general secretary, Daniel Kebede, hinted that teacher walkouts could occur in the autumn term if the formal ballot on pay and funding receives support.

The NEU’s stance reflects the strong sentiments among its members for securing a fully funded pay rise above inflation and improved funding for education. The union’s previous strike action in England and Wales demonstrates their commitment to addressing these issues through collective action.

Teachers’ Protest on Strike (Credits: The Independent)

On the government’s side, statements have indicated a desire to stabilize teachers’ pay awards after what has been described as two unprecedented years. Last year, the STRB recommended a 6.5% increase for teachers in England, which the government agreed to implement, leading to the cancellation of coordinated strike action by several education unions.

The NEU’s Willingness To Proceed With A Formal Strike Vote Highlights Its Commitment To Defending Teachers’ Rights

A difference can be seen in the act to the NEU’s approach; another teaching union, the NASUWT, has prioritized political campaigning over industrial action in the lead-up to the general election. The NASUWT’s consultative ballot saw most teacher members voting against holding a formal ballot for industrial action over pay and working conditions.

Mr. Kebede, representing the NEU, emphasized that the union’s decision sends a clear message to the current government and future administrations regarding their commitment to addressing the recruitment and retention crisis in education.

He called for direct discussions with Education Secretary Gillian Keegan on the crucial issues of pay and funding to prevent further crises in the education sector.

The NEU’s readiness to move towards a formal strike ballot underscores its determination to protect the interests of teachers and improve conditions in schools and colleges. The union asserts that while it prefers dialogue and resolution, it is prepared to take decisive action if necessary to safeguard the quality of education and support for educators.

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