Teachers demand an end to the public sector pay freeze

NUT delegates unanimously backed a move to warn of strike action if the incoming government fail to agree to restore the cash over a fixed timetable

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The Independent Online

Teachers yesterday demanded an end to the public sector pay freeze - and the restoration of the 15 per cent real terms cut in salary they claim to have suffered since 2010.

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers unanimously backed a move to warn of strike action if the incoming government fail to agree to restore the cash over a fixed timetable.

The conference in Harrogate heard many newly qualified teachers - especially in London - were having to share rooms because they could not afford their own accommodation.

Stefan Simms, from Ealing, west London, said: "There are many teachers in my association ... commuting three to four hours a day due to the unaffordability of housing near where they work."

He added that one teacher had told him he lived in a house with eight other teachers.  "They shared two to a room and, it's a big room, it's three to a room," he said:  "I was shocked but when I shared this with other teachers, they were not."

Ian Murch, the union's treasurer, told the conference: "Teachers don't live in big mansions where they have Rebekah Brookes and Jeremy Clarkson round for tea."

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Toby Cadoux, from Lambeth, south London, added: "There are many non-teaching staff in my school and other schools who can't afford a place of their own. They have to share rooms." (AFP)

In a sideswipe at Labour party leader Ed Miliband, he added: "Teachers normally have only one small to medium sized kitchen." It was revealed last month Mr Miliband had two kitchens at his home.

"We shouldn't and won't tolerate the disrespect for the value of teaching and teachers any longer. We will organise whatever action is necessary to defend our members' right to decent pay and decent pay progression."

The motion also called for an end to performance related pay which, delegates argued, left teachers stuck on £22,000 a year at the bottom of the pay scale - instead of getting increments raising their pay year by year to £37,000.

Betty Joseph, for the executive, said she knew of one academy that had not given a pay rise to any of its staff last year. She added that a "disproportionate" number of black teachers had not received a pay increase.

"We demand an end to payment by results as it is a pernicious and discriminatory practice that does nothing to improve teacher morale and the education our children receive," she said.  "Doctors aren't paid by the amount of patients they cure."

Toby Cadoux, from Lambeth, south London, added: "There are many non-teaching staff in my school and other schools who can't afford a place of their own. They have to share rooms."

In her address to the conference, Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, warned:  "We will fight for pay and conditions that our members deserve, we will fight for the education from qualified teachers that our children deserve and we will fight for social justice everywhere."

She added that politicians should "do everything they can to eliminate poverty which holds children back - but they don't".

"No-one can tell me that a 163 per cent increase in the use of food banks - in particular, increased use of food banks in school holidays when children can't access free school meals and benefits sanctions up by 8,000 per cent, means that we are all in this together," she said.

Teachers had a pay freeze for the first three years of the Coalition Government followed by one per cent rise in the following two years.

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