Teachers’ strike would be ‘unforgivable’ after Covid interruption, says Zahawi

The education secretary said a shutdown would be

The education secretary said a shutdown would be “irresponsible” in the wake of the turmoil in children’s learning (EPA)

A teachers’ strike would be “unforgivable”, said Nadhim Zahawi, as the largest teachers’ union warned of union action over wages and workload.

The education secretary said such a measure would be “irresponsible” in the wake of the turmoil in children’s learning caused by the pandemic.

He 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 in the coming months.

Young people have been more disrupted than any generation before them

Nadhim Zahawi

Mr Zahawi wrote in the daily telegraph: “Young people have suffered more disruption than any generation that preceded them and to compound that now, as recovery is in full swing and families are thinking about their next big step after school or college, would be unforgivable and unfair.”

The union said pay cuts and a high workload are affecting teacher recruitment and retention, causing “real harm” to education.

He criticized government evidence for the School Teachers’ Review Body proposing a 3% pay rise for most teachers in England, which he said would mean a “huge” pay cut based on Wednesday’s inflation figures from 9.1% in the CPI. measure and 11.7 percent for the RPI.

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 tell us they are having a hard time making it to the end of the month, their heating and fuel bills mean they are struggling to make ends meet.”

In a letter to Mr. Zahawi, the union called for a fully inflation-financed salary increase for all teachers, as well as action on the pay of other staff, such as support staff, and measures to reduce workloads.

The minister was told that teachers’ 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.

    (PA wire)

(PA wire)

The letter says: “Alongside the decline in teacher salaries 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 average earnings across 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 numbers of teacher training are very worrying; orders are down 24 percent 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 postgraduate qualification.

“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.

“We ask you to commit to an increase in inflation for all teachers.

“It is not enough to propose higher raises only for beginning teachers (which are likely to be lower than inflation).

“The government’s current inaction on these issues is causing real damage to the education and livelihoods of our members.

“We have to tell you that, in the absence of sufficient action from you, in the fall semester, we will consult with our members on their willingness to take industrial action.

“And we will strongly encourage you to vote yes. We can no longer stand by while you throw education and educators to the ground.”

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