Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 16:38 UK

Teachers to hold ballot on strike

NUT strike
The strike in April disrupted thousands of schools

The biggest teachers' union is to hold a strike ballot - escalating its pay dispute and raising the prospect of classroom disruption this autumn term.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) says the government must stop the "spiral of decline" in teachers' pay.

Teachers have a three year pay deal - worth 2.45% for the first year and 2.3% for the next two years.

A one-day strike by the union in April disrupted about a third of schools in England and Wales.

The NUT executive voted unanimously to hold a ballot of members "to seek their views on further strike action in opposition to the government's pay policy".

No date has been set for the ballot - but it is expected to be later this term.

Food prices

"The Secretary of State must act to halt the spiral of decline in teachers' pay. Teachers and other public sector worker unions cannot and will not stand by and see their members' incomes and standards of living cut," said Christine Blower, the union's acting general secretary.

"This is a campaign that becomes more relevant with each passing month. With food prices up 40%, utilities up over 30%, along with general inflation now running at 5%, teachers, particularly young teachers, are suffering.

"Refusing teachers a decent salary will have a direct impact on children and young people's education. Recruitment has already taken a dive as graduates choose better paid and less stressful careers. A recent survey showed teachers are working ever longer hours; more work for decreasing pay."

The NUT's walk-out this year was the biggest teachers' strike for 21 years - and the union has promised to continue its campaign.

The union says that the pay deal covering 2008 to 2011 has been overtaken by inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index and represents a cut in earnings.

In the ballot for the previous one-day strike NUT members voted by 75% to 25% in favour of taking action - but on the basis of only a 32% turn-out.

The strike was also not supported by the other teachers' unions, which meant that only about one in 10 of teachers had voted in support.

However the strike disrupted lessons in about one in three schools, affecting 2.5m pupils - with about one in 10 schools completely shut down.

Schools shut in public pay unrest
24 Apr 08 |  Education
Teachers defend strike disruption
22 Apr 08 |  Education
Q&A: NUT teachers' strike
24 Apr 08 |  Education

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