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Teachers to strike in July if pay dispute not resolved, says union

Teachers on strike in London  (PA)
Teachers on strike in London (PA)

Teachers will hold fresh strikes in July if their long-running dispute over pay has not been resolved by mid-June, the National Education Union has announced.

The NEU said on Thursday that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan could avoid further industrial action if she addresses pay and other issues, including recruitment.

Following a meeting of the union’s national executive, joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said the minister now has the School Teachers’ Review Body’s report on pay.

They said: “She has the power to reject, accept or amend the STRB recommendations. She has the power to fully fund her decision.

“If she makes the right call, she can start to move our schools in a better direction.

“She can fund schools properly, start to address the decline in teacher pay and its consequences for the appalling state of teacher recruitment and retention.

“If she makes the right decisions, she could also avoid further strike action.

“The NEU executive will meet next on June 17.

“We hope that by then she will have discussed the STRB report and her reaction to it with teacher and headteacher unions, and discussed both workload and this year’s pay, which remains unsettled.

“If she hasn’t moved to settle the dispute, then that meeting will decide on further strike action in the week commencing July 3.”

The union is re-balloting its members to seek a new mandate to continue taking industrial action for six months.

Teachers in England have rejected a pay offer from the Government that would have seen salaries rise by 4.5% on average next year, alongside a one-off payment of £1,000 for this year.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and NASUWT earlier this month voted to turn down the offer.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) in schools in England have held three regional and five national strike days since February.

A Department for Education spokesperson previusly said: “For unions to co-ordinate strike action with the aim of causing maximum disruption to schools is unreasonable and disproportionate, especially given the impact the pandemic has already had on their learning.

“Children’s education has always been our absolute priority, and they should be in classrooms where they belong.

“We have made a fair and reasonable teacher pay offer to the unions, which recognises teachers’ hard work and commitment as well as delivering an additional £2bn in funding for schools, which they asked for.”