Education Secretary Gillian Keegan must make a “concrete” pay offer for teachers in talks to avert further strikes going ahead in schools in England, union leaders have said
Ms Keegan will meet with the leaders of unions representing teachers and headteachers on Wednesday in a bid to resolve an ongoing pay dispute which threatens more walkouts in the coming weeks.
It comes after the National Education Union (NEU) suspended a planned strike in Wales this week after receiving a pay offer from the Welsh government.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the move in Wales should pile more pressure on the Education Secretary to bring forward proposals on teachers’ pay to avoid further strike action.
He told the PA news agency: “We would like for there to be an offer which would put us in a position of being able to suspend the action on February 28, March 1 and March 2. That would be great.
“That’s what we think the Secretary of State should be doing. That’s where our hopes are.”
Mr Courtney added: “We’d like to see an offer and we’re not getting any at all.”
The Welsh Government has offered teachers in Wales an extra 1.5% on this year’s 5% pay award, as well as a 1.5% one-off payment.
Ahead of the talks with Ms Keegan on Wednesday, Mr Courtney told PA: “We want them to say better than that.”
“We think that the government in Westminster can do better than the government in Wales because it has more financial resources,” he added.
Regional strikes in England are due to take place by NEU members on February 28, March 1 and March 2, with national strikes in England and Wales planned for March 15 and March 16.
Earlier this month, the majority of schools in England were forced to shut their doors to some pupils during the first day of walkouts by NEU members.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “While it is positive that the secretary of state is talking to us, the government is fast running out of time to do the right thing and what we really need to see now is a concrete pay offer.
“Our members have waited long enough after enduring more than a decade of real terms pay-cuts which are fuelling a really worrying recruitment and retention crisis against a backdrop of a mounting workload, long hours and the legacy of the pandemic.
“This is putting children’s education at risk and neither the profession nor families across the country will forgive the government if it fails to act.”
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “Whilst we welcome the opportunity to meet again with the government to discuss our ongoing pay dispute, we now need to hear specific proposals from the Education Secretary which will address our members’ concerns.
He added: “Ministers cannot continue to play for time. We need to see concrete proposals from the government which can form the basis for a negotiated settlement of this dispute.”
Union leaders in Scotland said on Tuesday that no new pay offer has yet been made to Scotland’s teachers in a bid to end strike action.
The EIS teaching union has already staged national action, resulting in widespread school closures across Scotland, followed by a rolling programme of regional walkouts across the country.
University staff and civil servants will stage more strikes on Wednesday as the latest wave of industrial unrest continues to sweep across the country.
Tens of thousands of University and College Union (UCU) members will remain on strike at 150 UK universities in a dispute over pay, pensions and conditions.
Around 100 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union at the British Museum in London, working in visitor services and security teams, will continue their strikes as part of a dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.
PCS members are also on strike this week at the Department for Work and Pensions, DVLA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
Published: by Radio NewsHub