Teachers’ strikes are likely in June and in the autumn, after unions voted to stand with other trade unions in blocking the government’s attempts to have regional pay schemes for public sector workers.
In its Torquay conference over the Easter weekend, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) agreed that a move towards localised pay is an attack on teachers and the school system in general by the coalition government.
Delegates agreed the union should put a resolution or amendment to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference this autumn to develop “maximum unity against any measures to introduce local pay and attacks on pensions”, according to national reports.
At its annual conference in Birmingham on the same day, the NASUWT teaching union agreed to escalate its campaign against attacks on pay, pensions, working conditions, and job losses.
And last week, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) passed a resolution at its conference in Manchester raising calls for the union to defend national pay structures for teachers. It also expressed concerns over the government’s bid to reduce the power of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).
The STRB—which deals with pay and conditions—has been asked to look at the possibilities for making pay more “market-facing”. It is part of a wider government move towards regional or local pay rates.
NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney is reported to have said to the union that teaching was a national profession and should have national pay rates.
“Pay rates in different parts of the country would be very bad for the economy,” he said. “This is about our preparation for a campaign if the government does go down this route.”
The Department of Education said industrial action is premature when it is not known what the recommendations of the STRB will be—it does not report until September 2012.
In a leaked letter in February, Education Secretary Michael Gove asked the STRB for guidance on how to make teachers’ pay and conditions more in line with markets. He also asked how to maintain and support teachers in schools and raise the status of the profession.
Under plans from May 2011, the STRB said heads in maintained schools will be barred from earning any more than £140,000. This will be different in academies, and Mr Gove said that heads can earn up to 25 per cent extra for taking on responsibilities such as executive headships or consultancies.
Qualified teachers’ main pay scale (scale point 1) according to the Times Educational Supplement from September 2011 is: Inner London £27,000, Outer London £25,117, fringe £22,626, rest of England and Wales £21,588.
The upper pay scale is: Inner London £41,497, Outer London £37,599, fringe £35,218, rest of England and Wales £34,181.
The NUT also called on Monday for the possibility of strike action to slow the rise of academies and free schools.