More Michael Gove controversy, as two biggest teachers' unions threaten country-wide strikes

Workers are reacting to ministerial plans to scrap annual pay rises in favour of performance related pay

Education Editor

Millions of pupils face disruption this term as teachers’ leaders plan for a national strike in English schools before Christmas in protest over their pay, pensions and working conditions.

The two biggest teachers’ unions - the National Union of Teachers and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers - yesterday announced plans for regional strike action in October - followed by a one-day national stoppage before the end of term if there is no progress in their dispute.

They accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of “recklessness” and “megaphone diplomacy” over his failure to hold serious negotiations over their demands.

He, in his turn, accused them of painting a false picture of the profession in claiming morale was low, arguing “it has never been so high”.  However, he said he was prepared to meet them “any time, any place anywhere” to discuss their grievances.

The teachers’ dispute is over increased pension contributions, the Government’s move to scrap annual increment pay rises for all teachers in favour of performance related pay and the erosion of their working conditions as a result of education cuts.

They announced the first of two regional strikes - in eastern England, the east and west Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside - would take place on 1 October during the Conservative party conference. A second in the north-east, London, the south-east and south-west will follow on 17 October. Wales has been exempted from the regional strikes because the Welsh Assembly has embarked on negotiations with the unions.

The two union leaders said they would review the situation after the regional strike action - but that plans were being made for a national stoppage before Christmas.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said:  “No one wants to be disrupting children’s education. Our experience is that parents understand that if you attack teachers’ pay and conditions you are putting at risk children’s education.

“Since June Mr Gove has taken to going from one public platform to another using megaphone diplomacy rather than sitting down and engaging frankly. It is a reckless and irresponsible way for a secretary of state to behave.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, added: “Clearly some parents will be voluble and aren’t happy but actually on balance there is parental support because there is opposition to what the Government has done.” She added that “the last thing teachers want to be doing” at the beginning of the school year “is contemplating strike action”.

“There’s no choice this year other than to move in that direction given the brick wall  they are facing,” she added.

Mr Gove, after a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank in central London, said: “There is no excuse for going on strike.”

He later added: “I fear the reasons for this strike is there are people in the leadership of the teaching unions who are on, for ideological reasons or whatever, some sort of kick.”

“The problem with industrial action is that parents suffer as their routines are disrupted, they have to get childcare - the poorest lose out,” he said.

He made clear his disappointment at what he believed was strike action by teachers aimed at stopping talented staff receiving higher pay increases.

In his speech he criticised Ms Keates describing the teaching profession as being “in crisis” with morale at “rock bottom”, arguing that there was “growing enthusiasm” for entering the profession, adding:  “Opportunities for teachers are now better than ever.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'