Teaching unions reject pay rise offer from govt as strike action looms

1 July 2022, 14:15

Teaching unions have rejected a pay offer from education secretary Nadhim Zahawi and threatened more strike action
Teaching unions have rejected a pay offer from education secretary Nadhim Zahawi and threatened more strike action. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Teachers' leaders have rejected Government plans to give most teachers a pay rise of five per cent, saying it does not "come close" to what is needed.

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Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi is planning a pay rise of five per cent for 380,000 teachers across the UK to avoid the risk of strike action, rather than three per cent as originally planned.

He has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak to propose the increase.

On Friday, The Telegraph reported that Mr Zahawi is also planning to give early career teachers a rise of nine per cent in the first five years' of their career, as part of plans to raise starting salaries to £30,000.

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Both the NASUWT and NEU teaching unions, which have threatened strikes in autumn over pay, have said that the proposed increase of five per cent for more experienced staff is too low.

The NEU has previously written to Mr Zahawi calling for "inflation-plus" pay rises.

Nadhim Zahawi reportedly offered some teachers up to nine per cent
Nadhim Zahawi reportedly offered some teachers up to nine per cent. Picture: Alamy

"We have to tell you that failing sufficient action by you, in the autumn term, we will consult our members on their willingness to take industrial action," the letter said.

"And we will be strongly encouraging them to vote yes."

NASUWT has said it will hold a national strike ballot if the Government fails to "deliver pay restoration for teachers".

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Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said that she would await the Government's formal response to the STRB at the end of the month but that five per cent for more experienced staff was "unacceptable".

"Nine per cent for beginner teachers does not really shift the dial on the Government's plan to reach a £30,000 starter salary within two years," she said.

"In that time, however, teachers will have experienced the intense and excessive workload which leads to almost a third quitting within five years of qualifying."

Teachers are calling for a pay rise in line with inflation, which is expected to exceed 11 per cent in the autumn
Teachers are calling for a pay rise in line with inflation, which is expected to exceed 11 per cent in the autumn. Picture: Alamy

She added that more experienced teachers had been "subjected to poor pay deal after poor pay deal for many years, and for them a five per cent deal would be unacceptable".

"It is well below the current RPI inflation of 11.7 per cent," she said.

"What we need to see is an inflation-plus pay increase for all teachers.

"Teacher pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010.

"Combine this with the high workload - and amongst the highest unpaid working hours - and it is no wonder there is a major problem with recruitment and retention."

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She went on: "With training numbers through the floor, this has profound consequences for our education system.

"Add to this schools struggling to make ends meet through periods of underfunding, additional Covid security, and now the cost-of-living crisis."

Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT, said the plans "did not come close" to what was needed.

Dr Roach said it was "extraordinary" that the Government had chosen to delay publication of the pay review body report and that ministers had refused to "engage in dialogue directly with the profession".

"The deepening cost of living crisis together with 12 years of real-terms cuts to teachers' pay require a genuine commitment to pay restoration for teachers starting in September," he said.

"A typical classroom teacher is today £40,000 worse off than they would have been had their pay kept pace with inflation over the last decade.

"Talk of a pay award of five per cent for the vast majority of teachers doesn't come close to what is needed."

There are not enough supply agency teachers to cover gaps if teachers go on strike
There are not enough supply agency teachers to cover gaps if teachers go on strike. Picture: Alamy

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that ASCL was "not entirely sure what is new about this" given that the DfE submission to the School Teachers' Review Body in March proposed a two-year pay award of 8.9 per cent and then 7.1 per cent to teacher starting salaries.

"The trouble is that it also proposed lower pay awards for other pay points tapering down to three per cent and then two per cent for teachers on the upper pay scale and for leaders - which is significantly below inflation and represents another effective pay cut," he added.

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"This is on top of pay erosion since 2010 which has seen the real value of salaries fall by a fifth and is one of the main drivers of a teacher shortage crisis that is hitting our schools.

"We are seeking an across-the-board pay award which matches inflation and which also begins to address this long-term attack on teacher pay.

"We simply must have enough teachers to put in front of classes."

The Schools Week website has reported that there are not enough supply agency teachers to cover gaps if teachers go on strike.