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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 16:45 GMT
Capital's teachers vote for walkout
empty class
The action could disrupt lessons on 14 March
Teachers in London have voted for a day of industrial action over cost-of-living allowances.


1.65 a week is hopelessly inadequate when you think about house prices in London

John Bangs
NUT
The National Union of Teachers have announced a one-day walkout on Thursday 14 March in a move condemned by the government.

The union says schools throughout Greater London will be affected as will schools in parts of the surrounding counties.

Click here for the areas affected.

The union balloted its 41,000 members in an angry response to a 3.5% increase in the London allowance from April, in line with teachers' general pay rise.

Recruitment crisis

John Bangs, NUT spokesman, said: "We worked out that is 1.65 a week and when you think about the house prices in London, it is hopelessly inadequate."

The NUT is calling for the inner London allowance to be raised to 4,000.

General secretary Doug McAvoy said schools in London and the fringe areas were struggling to recruit and retain sufficient teachers.

London allowances before and after April
Inner: 3,000 to 3,105
Outer: 1,974 to 2,043
Fringe: 765 to 792

"The rate of teacher turnover in and around the capital has never been higher. Teachers come and stay for a short time, then move on," said Mr McAvoy.

"They cannot afford the high cost of living forcing schools to rely more and more on supply staff to fill vacancies".

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Industrial action will damage the education of children in London - and undermine the status of the profession."

She said that fewer than one in three NUT members eligible to vote had supported the action or only 13% of teachers across London.

"This shows that most think strike action will do nothing to improve their position."

The union has not taken action over London weighting since 1972, when Margaret Thatcher was education secretary.

The Liberal Democrats urged Education Secretary Estelle Morris to avoid confrontation with the unions and negotiate a package to "keep teachers in the classroom".

Mayor's warning

London Mayor Ken Livingstone urged Ms Morris to do more to tackle teacher shortages.

He warned the situation was likely get worse as the capital would need an estimated extra 3,000 teachers by 2016 to cope with a 68,000 rise in the number of school children.

The second largest teacher union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said it would not take strike action over the allowances but shared the NUT's concerns.

General secretary Nigel de Gruchy said a comprehensive package of measures was needed to focus on "desperately needed assistance" with housing for young teachers and for staff about to start families if the problem was ever to be solved.

He said they would await the results of the summer's comprehensive spending review before deciding on whether to take action.


The areas covered by the London weighting allowance are all the inner and outer London boroughs, plus:

Surrey

Berkshire: Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead

Buckinghamshire: South Bucks, Chiltern

Essex: Basildon, Brentwood, Epping Forest, Harlow and Thurrock

Hertfordshire: Broxbourne, Dacorum, East Herts, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers, Watford, Welwyn Hatfield

Kent: Dartford, Sevenoaks

West Sussex: Crawley

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Education Secretary, Estelle Morris
"It is not as if we haven't put extra resources into recruitment and retention"

Click here to go to London

Talking PointFORUM
Teachers' strike
NUT head quizzed about London walkout
See also:

05 Mar 02 | UK Education
07 Feb 02 | UK Education
30 Jan 02 | UK Education
06 Dec 00 | UK Education
23 Jan 02 | UK Education
21 Sep 01 | UK Education
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