Teacher strikes would be ‘unforgivable’ in wake of Covid disruption, says Nadhim Zahawi as union warns against union action
- Nadhim Zahawi said such a move would be ‘irresponsible’ in the wake of Covid-19 and the limited impact it had on children’s learning during lockdowns
- He said that ‘young people have suffered more disruption than generations before them’
- NEU said it would consult its members in the fall and strongly encourage strikes
- Union said pay cuts and high workloads hit recruitment and retention
Teachers going on strike would be “unforgivable,” the education minister said, as the largest teachers’ union warned of union action over pay and workload.
The National Education Union (NEU) said it would consult its members in the fall and “strongly encourage them” to support union action if the government does not respond to its concerns in the coming months.
The union said pay cuts and a high workload hit teacher recruitment and retention, causing ‘real damage’ to education.
But Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said such a move would be “irresponsible” in the wake of the upheaval in children’s learning caused by the pandemic.
Teachers going on strike would be ‘unforgivable’, Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi (pictured in Downing Street this week) said as the largest teachers’ union warned of union action over pay and workloads
Rail strike continues as Shapps is accused of ‘destructive’ negotiations
Another strike by rail workers is set to continue Thursday after the union at the center of a bitter dispute over jobs, wages and conditions accused the transport minister of “destructive” negotiations.
Talks took place on Wednesday between the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union, Network Rail and rail carriers to break the deadlock.
But there was no breakthrough: the RMT criticized Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Grant Shapps has ruined these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw their letter threatening to lay off 2,900 of our members.
Until the government disconnects Network Rail and the train companies, a negotiated settlement cannot be reached.
“We will continue our industrial campaign until we reach a negotiated settlement that provides job security and a pay rise for our members as we deal with the escalating cost of living crisis.”
But Mr Shapps accused Mr Lynch of telling a “total lie”, arguing that he had “absolutely nothing to do” with the issuance of a Network Rail letter or a request to withdraw it.
Network Rail RMT members and 13 train operators walk out on Thursday after a Tuesday shutdown, paralyzing large parts of the rail network.
About 60% of services ran on Wednesday as it took time for trains and crews to get to the depots after the strike.
Some services will be canceled from Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, members of the drivers’ union Aslef in Greater Anglia will strike on Thursday in a separate dispute over pay.
The company, also affected by the RMT dispute, advised passengers to travel only when necessary.
Mr Zahawi wrote in The Daily Telegraph: ‘Young people have suffered more disruption than any generation that has gone before them.
“And to amplify that now, with the recovery in full swing and families thinking about their next big step after school or college, would be unforgivable and unfair.”
The NEU criticized the government’s evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body proposing a 3 percent pay increase for most teachers in England, which the NEU said would mean a “huge” pay cut based on Wednesday’s inflation figures of 9.1% on the CPI. measure and 11.7% for RPI.
Deputy general secretary at NEU, Niamh Sweeney, told Sky News that a teachers’ strike was “more likely than in my 20 years in the profession”.
“Teachers tell us that they find it difficult to make it to the end of the month, because of their heating bills and their fuel bills they are struggling to survive.”
In a letter to Mr Zahawi, the union called for a fully funded inflation-plus pay rise for all teachers, as well as measures to pay other staff, such as support staff, and measures to reduce workload.
The minister was told that teachers’ wages have fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010, even before the rise in inflation this year, while their workload remains at ‘unsustainable’ levels.
The letter states: ‘In addition to the decline in teacher salaries in real terms relative to inflation, it has also declined in relative terms relative to earnings. “Average teacher salaries are at the lowest level compared to the average income in the economy in more than 40 years.
“Teachers and school leaders often tell us that workload is their biggest concern. ‘But at the moment our members tell us that payment is also a big problem.
‘The combination of unsustainable hours, the work intensity during those hours and the ever-decreasing wages are damaging our schools and the young people we educate.
‘Teachers look at their working hours and their salaries and calculate hourly rates, which are alarmingly low. ‘The latest figures on teacher education are very worrying; the number of applications decreased by 24% compared to last year.
‘One in eight newly graduated teachers left their job in the first year of education. ‘These young people often first obtained a diploma and then a postgraduate course.
“They are a great loss to the profession, but more importantly to the country’s students who rely on their teachers to educate and care for them.
“You have to respond to the new economic reality of double-digit inflation and the threat it poses to teachers’ living standards. We call on you to commit to an inflation-plus increase for all teachers.
the National Education Union said it would consult its members in the fall, “strongly encouraging them” to support union action
“It’s not good enough just to propose higher increases for beginning teachers (who themselves are probably lower than inflation).
“The current government inaction on these issues is causing real damage to the education and livelihoods of our members.
“We must tell you that in the absence of sufficient action from you, we will consult our members in the autumn on their willingness to take industrial action. “And we will strongly encourage them to vote yes.
“We can no longer stand by while you smash both education and educators into the ground.”