The teachers’ strike would be “inexcusable” and “irresponsible” in the wake of the disruption COVID-19 has caused to children’s learning, the education secretary said.
Nadhim Zahawi’s comments came after the National Education Union (NEU) said it would consult its members in the autumn, “strongly encouraging” them to back industrial action if the government fails to respond to their concerns. about high workloads and wages in the coming months. .
The minister wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Young people have suffered more disruption than any previous generation and to compound that now, as the recovery is in full swing and families are thinking about their next big step after school or university, It would be unforgivable and unfair.”
The union has criticized the government’s proposal for a 3% pay rise for most teachers in England, which it said would mean a “huge” pay cut based on inflation figures from Wednesday the 9th. 1% and 11.7% for the RPI.
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NEU Deputy General Secretary Niamh Sweeney told Sky News’ The Take with Sophy Ridge that a teachers’ strike was “more likely than it has been in my 20 years of working in the profession”.
“Teachers tell us they are finding it difficult to make ends meet, their heating bills and fuel bills mean they are struggling to make ends meet.”
In a letter to Mr Zahawi, the union has called for a fully inflation-financed salary increase plus inflation for all teachers, as well as measures to reduce workload.
Teachers’ pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010, even before this year’s inflation increases, while their workload remains at “unsustainable” levels.
The letter reads: “Along with teachers’ pay falling in real terms relative to inflation, it has also fallen relative to earnings.
“Average teacher salaries are at their lowest compared to average earnings across the economy in more than 40 years.
“Teachers and school leaders often tell us that workload is their number one concern.
“But right now, our members tell us that payment is also a big deal.
“The combination of unsustainable hours, the intensity of work during those hours, and ever-lower wage levels are hurting our schools and the young people we are educating.
“Teachers look at their working hours and salary and calculate hourly rates, which are alarmingly low.
“The latest figures for teacher training are very worrying, applications have fallen by 24% compared to last year.
“One in eight newly qualified teachers left the job in their first year of teaching.
“These young people often finished a degree and then went on to complete a graduate degree.
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“They are a great loss to the profession, but more importantly to the nation’s students who depend on their teachers to educate and care for them.
“It must respond to the new economic reality of double-digit inflation and the threat this poses to teachers’ standards of living.”
The union said it “would no longer sit idly by as you bring down both education and educators.”