Union criticised over demand for 10% pay rise

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The Independent Online

Teachers' leaders have thrown their weight behind a pay claim of least 10 per cent after hearing a young teacher claim she had been forced to quit and work abroad because she could not afford to live on her salary.

Delegates to the National Union of Teachers' annual conference voted overwhelmingly for a motion calling for a 10 per cent or £3,000 pay rise next year – plus an extra 6 per cent to counter below-inflation settlements over the past four years. The decision immediately provoked criticism from parents' leaders and the Government.

Margaret Morrissey, of the parents' pressure group, Parents OutLoud, asked: "Are they on another planet?

"It is a worthy aim and we support teachers' pay but this is not a worthy time to do it."

However, Becky Williams, a history teacher in a Nottinghamshire comprehensive earning £26,000 a year, said she had quit after four years to go and work abroad. She said she was "depressed" at having to work a 60-hour week and "tired of worrying what to do about trying to pay off a £25,000 student loan".

She said she would earn an extra £100 a month working in an international school in Kenya instead of working in a system "which no longer works for children".

However the Schools minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry said: "Teachers' pay and conditions have never been better. We have increased their pay 19 per cent in real terms since 1998 which means the average teacher is on nearly £33,000."

The NUT also threatened strike action over government plans to allow private companies to take over "sin bins" for disruptive pupils and run them for a profit.

Delegates warned they would ballot for industrial action if there was any attempt to worsen conditions or pay for teachers and children in pupil referral units.

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