Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 11:34 UK

Teachers vote to hold pay strike

NUT conference vote
The recent NUT conference backed a wider campaign on pay

Members of one of the biggest teaching unions in England and Wales have voted for a one-day pay strike on 24 April.

The National Union of Teachers says its ballot ran three to one in favour of what would be its first national stoppage for more than 20 years.

Voting was 48,217 (75%) in favour and 15,884 (25%) against on a 32% turnout.

The government says a strike will only disrupt children's learning. But the union wants the 2.45% pay rise for 2008 lifted at least above inflation.

General secretary Steve Sinnott said: "I call on the government to think again and ensure that salaries at least keep pay in line with inflation and that there is a recognition of the continuing workload pressures on teachers."

Headline inflation was currently 4.1%, he said.

Graduate recruitment

Mr Sinnott said: "The consequences of real term pay cuts are familiar to us. They were a feature of the 'boom and bust' years before 1997.

Big employers in the Association of Graduate Recruiters survey for 2008: 24,000
Teacher in England (outside London) and Wales, Sept. 2008: 20,627
London Inner/Outer/Fringe teacher: 25,000/24,000/21,619
Teacher in Scotland, April 2008: 20,427
"In that period schools suffered from recruitment and retention problems - there were teacher shortages and morale was low. The NUT wants no return to those bad old days."

He said that to bring the best young graduates into the profession, teachers' salaries needed to be competitive with those in the private sector.

"Our children deserve the best," he said.

"Young teachers need to be treated fairly. Paying them at levels which are not competitive with those of other graduate professions and making them unable to take even their first step on the housing ladder will damage recruitment."

The union said its last national action had been a rolling programme that had begun in 1984 and lasted until March 1987.

'Firm control'

The government urged the NUT to reconsider.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the pay award had been recommended by the independent School Teachers Review Body.

"It was welcomed by all the other teaching unions," she said.

"So it is disappointing that a small proportion of teachers are threatening to disrupt children's education in this way."

The ballot showed strike action had been backed by less than a quarter of the NUT's members - about one in 10 of the overall teacher workforce.

"It is right that teachers are properly rewarded. But everybody understands, including teachers, that we need to have a firm control of public sector pay to keep inflation low and interest rates down.

"A strike will only serve to disrupt children's learning, inconvenience parents and place a burden on fellow teachers."


The head of the Association of School and College Leaders, John Dunford, said he was disappointed by the NUT vote.

The pay award had been the result of a process in which all unions, including the NUT, played a part by giving evidence and having talks with the secretary of state - a process that had "delivered well for the teaching profession" for 10 years.

"A single organisation should not seek to impose its viewpoint at any point in this process," he said.

The leader of the other big classroom union, Chris Keates of the NASUWT, said a majority of its members had had accepted the review body's recommendation, recognising that compared with other public sector workers they had fared relatively well.

"However, the mood of teachers in relation to workload is very different," she said.

"Whilst pay continues to be a priority, our members advise us that their most pressing concern is excessive workload."

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