Teaching union calls for five per cent pay rise with possible strike backing

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Guardian

National Union of Teachers asks for staff pay increase after NHS announces 6.5% settlement, The Guardian reports.

Britain’s largest teaching union is calling for a 5% pay increase for school staff – buoyed by the announcement of a 6.5% settlement for nurses and NHS staff – backed by a campaign to include possible strike action.

The annual conference of the National Union of Teachers, shortly to merge and become the National Education Union, will consider a motion for a pay claim of 5% alongside other school unions, and ask that the increase be funded by the government rather than from existing school budgets.

Kevin Courtney, the union’s general secretary, applauded the government’s ending of some austerity-era pay policies. But he warned that teaching in England was moving from crisis to catastrophe, as school staff looked at their long hours and compared working conditions with those of other professions with more generous pay.

“There is some optimism in that the government is starting to move. But we think when teachers around the country, and students considering coming into teaching, look at the salaries, they see it is not competitive with other graduate salaries,” Courtney said.

Teachers previously had annual pay increases as they gained experience. But those policies have largely been replaced with performance-related pay, increasing uncertainty.

Courtney said: “Crucially, teachers are looking at their working hours and they are making a calculation about the hourly rate they actually get. When young teachers are reporting that they work 60-hour weeks, and they calculate their hourly rate, they are thinking their pay is nowhere near enough.

“We have already a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention – and if we don’t act soon it will be a catastrophe.”

The NEU and other teaching unions recently met with the government’s pay advisors, the School Teachers Review Body (STRB), which later this year will recommend a pay settlement.

Courtney noted that last year the STRB was prepared to sound the alarm over looming staff shortages, calling it “a substantial risk to the functioning of an effective education system”.

“Those words were quite astonishing for such a body,” Courtney said. “I think the STRB would really want to say that we should have 5% [pay rise] but they are worried whether the government would fund it or not.”

The proposal to be considered at the conference later this month will call on the government to fully fund any pay rise and lays the groundwork for industrial action through canvassing members.

The NUT conference in Brighton over Easter will be its last separate annual conference following its merger with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) to form the National Education Union. ATL will hold its last separate annual conference the following weekend.

The conference will hear criticism of poorly performing multi-academy trusts and the high pay handed to their chief executives.

The union will also hear evidence of the crisis in mental health among pupils, thanks at least in part to the stress of high-stakes exams. The union will also consider a boycott of primary school tests in England.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect with us on LinkedIn!