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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 18:28 GMT
Are teachers so badly off?
NUT marchers
Members of the NUT want better London allowances
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By Katherine Sellgren
BBC News Online

Teachers in London have taken to the streets to protest over their cost of living allowances, claiming they are being priced out of the capital.

But how do their wages compare with other public sector workers?

From April 2002 newly qualified teachers in England and Wales will receive a salary of 17,628, following a 3.5% pay rise announced in January.

Teachers working in inner London boroughs will receive an annual allowance of 3,105 on top of their basic salary.

The government has got to acknowledge the true costs of living in London

William Parsons, City of London Police Federation
Those in outer London will get 2,043 and those on the fringe - parts of Berkshire and Kent for example - will get 792.

The Labour government trumpets these figures, saying they are a significant rise on teacher salaries in 1997, when a newly qualified teacher would start on 14,463 or 16,551 inside London.

The government may have a point, but then a London tube driver starts on a salary of 28,762 after just 26 weeks of training.

Police wages

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), who took to the streets on Thursday in a one-day strike over the cost of London living allowances, waved banners claiming Metropolitan police officers got 6,000 in London weighting.

police officers at the NUT teachers' march
Teachers claim police officers in London are much better off
"The cops have got a lot, give us what the cops have got!" they chanted.

But chair of the City of London Police Federation William Parsons said that figure included a housing allowance of up to 4,000 which was scrapped for new officers from 1994.

The starting salary for a new police constable is 17,133, which rises to 19,170 after 32 weeks' training, Mr Parsons said.

Officers in London then get a London weighting of 1,773 and an allowance of 1,011.

In other words, a newly qualified teacher in inner London would get 20,733 - 1,221 less than a newly trained police officer in the capital.

Free travel

And London police officers get free travel on the underground and buses, as well as free travel on all public transport within a 17 mile radius of London.

Mr Parsons said he had every sympathy with the plight of the teachers, indeed with all public sector workers working in and around London.

"The situation for teachers is critical, the government has got to acknowledge the true costs of living in London," he said.

Social workers

The view from the public sector workers' union, Unison, is similar.

Unison is calling on the government to increase London weighting to 4,000 - the current rate for inner London borough council workers is 2,652.

Labour won this election campaign on public services and for the government to deliver it's got to rely on public sector staff

Unison spokeswoman
According to figures from Unison, a planning officer and an environmental health officer start on 19,770, excluding London weighting.

A probation officer gets 18,786 and a social worker 16,734, Unison said.

From April the starting salary for a nurse will be 16,005.

A spokeswoman for Unison said teachers - although paid better than social workers and nurses - had a fair point.

"Public sector pay is going to be a serious problem for this government," she said.

"Labour won this election campaign on public services and for the government to deliver it's got to rely on public sector staff."

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Education
Teachers' strike closes schools
07 Mar 02 | Business
UK wealth gap yawns wider
23 Jan 02 | Education
Teachers to get 3.5% pay rise
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