NUT teachers strike: Why are union members striking on Thursday?

A combination of pay, pensions and workloads will see teachers strike

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The Independent Online

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will join council and health workers, firefighters and civil servants across England and Wales for a one-day strike on Thursday, in the biggest ever walkout since the coalition government came to power.

With more than a million people expected to take part in the industrial action, we explain what NUT members hope to gain from the stoppage.

Why are NUT members striking?

The NUT has been in dispute with the Government for more than two years over changes to pay, pensions and working conditions, and are calling on members in state schools and sixth form colleges in England and Wales to take part in the strike.

Pay rises

Despite two years of pay freezes and a 1 per cent cap in 2013, a 1 per cent pay rise is being imposed for 2014, when RPI inflation was 3 per cent. The NUT, and Unite, Unison and GMB unions whose members are being hit by similar issues, argue workers are suffering from falling living standards.

Video: Workers go on strike across the UK

Workloads

The NUT claims teachers are forced to work 60 hours a week on average, and the prospect of working until they are 68.

Performance related pay

Staff are also unhappy with what they regard to be plans to “tear up” the national teacher pay system, as the national pay structure will be replaced by performance related pay.

Pensions

Reversing the Coalition’s policy meaning teachers to pay more towards their pensions and receive less money when they retire is another priority.

Dialogue

The NUT also hope to see a more productive dialogue between the Government, claiming talks are currently “about implementation” rather than the policies themselves. “In countries with productive dialogue with teacher unions, such as Finland, positive results flow for children, education and teachers,” the NUT explains on its website.

What do demonstrators hope to achieve?

The NUT hope the strike will see Education Secretary Michael Gove tackle workload, the pay system and retirement age for teachers.  It also wants the Government to reduce the number of Ofsted inspections in order to give teachers more time to focus on their lessons.

In an open address to Michael Gove, Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said that Gove’s constant reforms to the curriculum and examinations system are causing “unnecessary stress to teachers, pupils and parents.”

“You need to begin to talk to teachers and their unions and change the direction of policy,” she warned according to the Telegraph, adding: “otherwise there will be a further damaging shortage of teachers as the economy picks up.”

What will be the impact of the strike?

Due to the scale of the action, schools and council services are set to be disrupted. In addition, the Department for Education has advised that sports coaches and scout leaders be drafted in to keep schools open.

What is the Government's reaction to the strike?

The Coalition is sticking to its policy of holding down public sector pay and of privatising services. Ministers have criticised teachers for disrupting childrens' education.

The Prime Minister has also pledged to bring forward suggested changes to employment law so a certain number of people have to take part in a ballot for industrial action to be lawful.

Business leaders and leading Conservatives have been pressing for a threshold of 50 per cent.

Additional reporting by PA

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