Teachers back possible strike action if no improvement on pay deal

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Teachers have backed possible strike action if the Government does not improve its current pay deal.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted unanimously in favour of campaigning for a salary rise and putting pressure on the Government to end so-called performance-related pay.

Delegates at the union's annual conference in Cardiff heard teachers' pay had been cut by 15% in real terms since 2010 against a backdrop of increasing workload and a perceived staff shortage.

They voted in favour of campaigning for and, when there is necessary support, "ballot, for a national campaign of strike and non-strike action".

NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney said: "The NUT is not alone in recognising the urgent and pressing need for a pay rise for teachers and a change of policy."

At present, the ceiling for newly qualified teachers in England and Wales outside London is £33,160 and the floor £22,467.

Last year, a Government advertising campaign which said "great" teachers could earn up to £65,000 resulted in a stream of complaints that the claim was inaccurate, on the basis that around one in 1,000 teachers earned as much.

On Friday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell reaffirmed Labour's pledge to increase public sector pay. 

Addressing delegates, Simon Murch, NUT executive member for Sheffield, said: "Performance-related pay is unfair, particularly to women and part-time teachers, and those from a BME background.

"Last year's teacher recruitment advert is still doing the rounds - the one suggesting teachers could earn up to £65,000.

"Being from Devon originally, I am familiar with that smell."

Mr Courtney added: "The Institute for Fiscal Studies said in February that teaching as an occupation is likely to face 'significant challenges in recruiting sufficient numbers of highly qualified teachers over the next few years, particularly in the light of the ongoing squeeze on public sector pay'.

"In their report last year, the School Teachers' Review Body made a clear statement that a pay increase 'significantly higher' than 1% will be required 'before the end of this Parliament' in order to recruit and retain enough teachers over the coming years - and that schools will need more funding to allow for this.

"We will shortly find out whether the Review Body has decided to recommend such an increase and, if so, how the Government responds.

"The NUT welcomes the comments made by the shadow chancellor at conference on Friday that under a future Labour government 'teachers would be properly paid'.

"At a time of a crisis in teacher supply and a buoyant graduate recruitment market, the Government needs to do much more to make teaching an attractive profession.

"The NUT has repeatedly warned that, if the Government continues its strategy of below-inflation pay awards for teachers, cutting the real value of pay and reducing its competitiveness, teacher supply problems will persist and the quality of education provision will decline."

Any ballot would have to require at least 50% of the turnout - and receive support of at least 40% of all those entitled to vote - to trigger industrial action.