Teachers on course for first pay strike in 22 years

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The Independent Online

Britain's biggest teachers' union yesterday pledged its support for strike action next month over pay.

The National Union of Teachers is planning a one-day strike in English and Welsh schools on April 24 – its first national strike over pay for 22 years.

Yesterday, at its annual conference, delegates unanimously backed a move to follow the strike with further action and demonstrations if the Government fails to improve upon its 2.45 per cent pay offer.

They also called for other unions to join them in a fight against Gordon Brown's attempt to squeeze pay in the public sector.

The results of a ballot on the strike call will be known next week – but union members are optimistic that there will be a majority in favour of it. They argue that the offer represents a real-terms pay cut as they claim inflation is running at more than 4 per cent.

The union is also warning of strike action over class sizes if the Government refuses to bring in legislation limiting classes to a maximum of 20 pupils.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, has already counselled against legislation, saying he would prefer headteachers to decide how to spend any extra cash.

At the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference last week, he argued that class sizes of 70 would be manageable if teachers were helped by classroom assistants.