More strike misery as schools could face further action and 130,000 civil servants to walk out
Britain is facing the prospect of further strike misery after a teaching union urged members to reject a pay offer and civil servants announced a fresh walkout by 133,000 workers at the end of next month.
The National Education Union (NEU) said it would recommend members reject what it called an “insulting” pay offer from Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.
Thousands of schools across the country were forced to partially or fully close during the last teachers strike on March 15 and 16.
Meanwhile, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said hundreds of thousands of workers would walk out on April 28 in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
Strikes in the coming weeks include a five-week walkout in the Passport Office from April 3, raising the possibility of widespread disruption for Britons awaiting a passport renewal.
PCS members working for Ofgem in London and Glasgow will strike for six days from April 10-14 and on April 17.
In a statement released on Monday evening, the NEU said the offer amounts to a £1,000 one-off cash payment for the present school year (2022/23) and a 4.3 per cent consolidated pay rise for most teachers for next year (2023/24).
Nurses and paramedics are currently voting over a similar pay deal struck by health unions.
But the NEU said its analysis suggested that between two in five (42 per cent) and three in five (58 per cent) of schools would have to make cuts next year to afford it.
Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the NEU, said: “This is an insulting offer from a Government which simply does not value teachers.
“It is now crystal clear that we have an Education Secretary and a Government that is ignoring the crisis in our schools and colleges.
“By refusing to address the legitimate and reasonable request to bring to an end more than a decade of below-inflation unfunded teacher pay increases, the Government is driving teaching and recruitment retention in schools in England to breaking point.
“No child benefits from this level of underfunding. Investing in the education of this generation of children and young people, those hit so hard by Covid, is essential to economic recovery.”
Members of the NEU will begin voting on the deal from Monday evening and the ballot will run until Sunday. Results of the ballot will be announced at the NEU conference on April 3.
Four separate education unions had been engaged in “intensive” talks with ministers over pay, conditions and workload.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the headteachers' union NAHT, said the union had received an offer and would make a further statement on Tuesday.
The NASUWT and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said they would ask for feedback from members before recommending a deal.
A 10-day strike by security staff at Heathrow is also expected to disrupt travel from April 9, with British Airways announcing that it would cancel around 32 flights a day as a result of the action.
A BA spokesman said: “Following Heathrow’s requirement for us to reduce the number of passengers travelling during the period of its employees’ proposed strike action, we’ve regrettably had to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule.
“We’ve apologised to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them a range of options, including rebooking on to a new flight with us or another airline, or requesting a full refund.”
BA has already cancelled around 5 per cent of its flights during the industrial action and stopped selling tickets for strike days. The cancellations fall on short-haul routes and the long-haul services are not affected.
Heathrow insisted it had sufficient contingency plans in place to cope with the strike.
However, strike action has been suspended on the railways after members of the RMT voted in favour of a pay offer made by Network Rail.