With the new school year having only just begun, teaching unions have announced they are pressing ahead with their planned programme of regional rolling strikes which launched in the North West of England before the summer holiday.
As part of their ongoing campaign against pay cuts, pension changes including increased contributions and rising workloads, the two major teaching unions, the NUT and NASUWT, have proposed two regional strike days in October and threatened national one-day strikes before the end of term .
the east of England, the East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber region
and on Thursday, October 17 in:
London, the North East, South East and South West.
On the strike days, teachers will attend a series of regional rallies to demonstrate their anger, frustration and concern at the lack of progress in negotiations with the Department for Education and Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: “At the start of the new academic year, the last thing teachers wish to be doing is preparing for further industrial action.”
“With pay, pensions and working conditions being systematically attacked and an education secretary who refuses to listen or negotiate, teachers have no other choice.”
“Michael Gove has demoralised an entire profession, it is time that he started to listen for the sake of teachers, pupils and education.”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the teachers’
unions would meet the government “any time, any place” and accused Mr Gove of being “reckless and irresponsible” and of engaging in “megaphone diplomacy”.
She added: “No one wants to be disrupting children’s education. Our experience is that parents understand that if you attack teachers’ pay and conditions you are putting at risk children’s education.”
“The attacks on teachers are relentless. The reward for their hard work, dedication and commitment has been a vicious assault on their pay, conditions and professionalism.”
Education Secretary Mr Gove – who has insisted teachers have “never had it so good” –condemned the action, warning that strikes would disrupt pupils’ learning, create problems and inconvenience for parents and damage the reputation of teachers.
Mr Gove has:
• accused union leaders of pursuing strike action for
• said “teachers have better pensions than the majority of
workers in the public and private sectors”.
• accused the leaders of the NUT and NASUWT of “repeatedly
peddling the damaging falsehood that teaching is a ‘depressing and demotivating activity”.
Meanwhile, Labour’s Stephen Twigg, Shadow Education Secretary, said the coalition government was “undermining teacher professionalism by allowing unqualified teachers to be employed in schools on a permanent basis” and said Mr Gove had had a summer of silence on major education issues.
Under proposed government reforms, set to come into effect from this autumn, pay will be linked to performance in the classroom and head teachers will have greater flexibility over salaries.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government’s measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more. In a recent poll, 61% of respondents supported linking teachers’ pay to performance and 70% either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all.”