Teachers’ strike: All state schools in England could be closed by ‘unprecedented’ coordinated strikes
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All state schools in England may risk being closed by “unprecedented” coordinated strikes involving all four major teaching unions as part of their ongoing pay dispute with the government. The leaders of the unions said the latest move serves as a reminder that negotiations over pay and school funding need to be resumed.
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT said: “The significance of four union general secretaries being aligned in this way should not be understated. It’s a real demonstration of unity on our part and determination on the part of our members, after weeks, if not months, of stonewalling from the secretary of state (Gillian Keegan).”
He said Keegan had “gone to ground” as he accused her of refusing to meet the union leaders. He added: “Her haste to strike a deal has seriously backfired and we’re here today because it has galvanised not just us but our members, rank and file classroom teachers and school leaders who are now going to be balloted for industrial action.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders described the previous pay talks as “bizarre and surreal”. He said: “The nation’s parents are watching on and saying, why is the government not sorting this out? This is a government that wants education on the cheap. They don’t want to pay teachers.”
If the ballots held by the four unions, including the National Education Union and the National Association of Head Teachers, pass the legal threshold, then the leaders said they would coordinate action in the autumn term this year.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “I think with our four unions you would find that every state school in England would be affected by the dispute, and that would put it up to 300-400,000 teachers who would be involved in taking action.”
In March, the government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment alongside an average 4.5% pay rise next year after talks. But members of the four unions rejected the pay offer by substantial margins.
Paul Whiteman, the NAHT’s general secretary, said “enough is enough”. He added: “When it comes to school funding, the government has attempted to fob off the general public with massaged figures and deceptive statistics, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve been made to study maths until the age of 18 or the age of 180, its sums just don’t add up.”
The NEU said on Monday that it will begin voting for renewed strike authorisation until the end of the year. The NEU has staged five days of national and regional strikes in England so far, with a sixth scheduled for Tuesday (May 2).