Teacher unions begin new strike votes after rejected pay offer

Two teacher unions have opened new ballots for strike action after rejecting the Government’s recent pay offer.

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and National Education Union (NEU) rejected the pay and working conditions offer and ballots for members to vote on industrial action opened on Monday.

The NEU said it will be re-balloting teacher members working in England’s state-funded schools, with the current mandate for industrial action ending on July 13.

The NAHT ballot will close on July 31, with education unions agreeing to co-ordinate strike action in the autumn term.

Members are being asked: “Are you prepared to take part in industrial action consisting of a strike?”

Ballot papers sent from the NEU will ask members: “Are you prepared to take part in strike action in furtherance of this dispute?”

NEU leader Mary Bousted
Mary Bousted said the Government’s pay offer is not good enough (PA)

The NEU ballot will run until July 28.

NEU joint secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said: “Due to the lack of engagement from Government, the NEU has been put in the position of re-balloting its members to continue the dispute, seeking a fully-funded pay offer which meets their expectations.

“The pay and funding offer made by (Education Secretary) Gillian Keegan following six days of talks in March was simply not good enough, and teachers branded it an ‘insult’.

“Our members rejected it by 98% on a two-thirds turnout, a very clear message to Government that they must try far harder.

“Indeed, with four education unions balloting members for strike action in the autumn term this should be a wake-up call.

“Our re-ballot would allow the NEU to co-ordinate action with other teacher unions in the autumn term if Government does not provide a settlement to the dispute.

“It is never too late for the Education Secretary to come to the negotiating table and make an improved offer.”

Education unions ballot on strikes
Paul Whiteman said the education system is in a mess (PA)

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “After our members overwhelmingly rejected the previous inadequate offer, which was not properly funded, we appealed to the Government to get back round the table.

“So far we have had no further meaningful talks and instead the Government has dropped its offer of a £1,000 cost-of-living payment as an apparent punishment for not accepting its deal.

“We have been left with no other choice but to seek this mandate for industrial action.

“Nobody working in education wants to have to go on strike.

“But it seems this is the only way to open the Government’s eyes to the mess our education system is in, and the recruitment and retention crisis fuelled by years of real-terms pay and funding cuts, unsustainable workload and high-stakes inspections which harm staff wellbeing.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is bitterly disappointing that unions continue to pursue strike action, despite having already cost children almost a week in school.

“Whether it was delivering the £2 billion funding uplift that unions asked for in the autumn or making a fair offer on pay, our priority has been finding a solution to end this dispute and the disruption children and families are facing as a result.

“Just last week thousands of schools received significant additional funding, as part of the extra £2 billion of investment we are providing both this year and next. As a result, school funding will be at its highest level in history next year, as measured by the IFS.”