Striking teachers would be “unforgivable” and “irresponsible” after the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to children’s learning, the education secretary said.
Nadhim Zahawi’s comments came after the National Education Union (NEU) said it would consult with its members in the fall, “strongly encouraging them” to support industrial action if the government does not respond to their concerns about high workloads and pay. In the next months .
The minister wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Young people have suffered more disruption than any generation that preceded them and to compound this now as recovery is in full swing and families are thinking about their next big step after school or college. , it would be unforgivable and unfair.”
The union criticized the government’s proposal for a 3% pay rise for most teachers in England, which it said would mean a “huge” pay cut based on Wednesday’s inflation figures of 9.1% and 11. 7% for RPI.
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NEU Deputy Secretary General Niamh Sweeney told Sky News, The Take with Sophy Ridge, that a teacher strike was “more likely than in my 20 years of working in the profession”.
“Teachers are telling us they are having a hard time making it to the end of the month, their heating bills and their fuel bills mean they are struggling to make ends meet.”
In a letter to Zahawi, the union called for a fully inflation-financed salary increase for all teachers, as well as measures to reduce the workload.
Teacher pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010, even before this year’s inflation increases, while their workload remains at “unsustainable” levels.
The letter reads: “Alongside the decline in teacher pay in real terms relative to inflation, it also declined in relative terms relative to earnings.
“Average teacher salaries are at their lowest level compared to the average earnings of the economy in over 40 years.
“Teachers and school leaders often tell us that workload is their predominant concern.
“But now, our members are telling us that payment is also a big issue.
“The combination of unsustainable hours, the intensity of work during those hours and falling salary levels are hurting our schools and the young people we are educating.
“Teachers are looking at their working hours and salaries and calculating hourly rates, which are alarmingly low.
“The latest figures for teacher training are very worrying; enrollment has fallen by 24% compared to last year.
“One in eight newly graduated teachers left their jobs in their first year of teaching.
“These young people often completed an undergraduate degree and then completed a graduate degree.
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“They are a great loss to the profession, but more importantly to the country’s students who depend on their teachers to educate and care for them.
“You must respond to the new economic reality of double-digit inflation and the threat it poses to teachers’ living standards.”
The union said it would “no longer stand by while you throw education and educators to the ground.”