Teachers prepare for autumn of discontent

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The Independent Online

Britain's biggest teachers' union is gearing for an autumn of discontent in schools by planning a further national strike over pay later this term.

Leaders of the National Union of Teachers last night unanimously backed a motion calling for a further ballot of its membership in England and Wales on the stoppage.

The move, which could spark more widespread public service action over pay, follows a one-day strike in April which resulted in two million state school pupils being sent home for the day. The union is angry that a three-year pay deal worth 7 per cent (2.45 per cent in the first year and 2.3 per cent in the following two) is being eroded by inflation – and represents a real-terms pay cut for its members.

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the NUT, said: "This campaign becomes more relevant with each passing month. With food prices up 40 per cent, utilities up over 30 per cent, along with general inflation now running at 5 per cent, teachers – particularly young teachers – are suffering.

"Refusing teachers a decent salary will have a direct impact on children and young people's education. Recruitment has already taken a dive as graduates choose better-paid and less stressful jobs."

A ballot of NUT members is expected by early November, with strike action taking place later that month if members approve.

At a rally organised by the NUT during its strike in April, Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, warned it was prepared to back concerted action over pay by public sector workers, adding: "The Government has to be persuaded to turn away from their wrong-headed approach to public sector pay."

The strike was the union's first national stoppage for more than two decades. It followed a ballot in which 75 per cent of those who voted – turnout was 32 per cent of members – backed strike action.