Debate: As unions announce walk out, are teachers right to go on strike?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

Teachers in England and Wales will go on strike this summer as the row over pay, pensions and working conditions shows no sign of resolution.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and NASUWT announced the move, which will see teachers absent from classrooms in the summer term, after months of dispute.

Strikes will start in the north-west of England but a national strike will be called in the autumn term if agreement with the government cannot be reached.

"We are very disappointed", said a spokesman for England's Department for Education. But are the unions right to call a strike?

Case for: Fair

Teachers are being stretched to the limit without fair reward. Pensions have been cut, pay is dropping, hazy government initiatives (ebacc? Ebc? GCS-what?) confuse all on the frontlines. And still Michael Gove pursues his ideological crusade without consulting teachers and without listening when objections are raised. This strike will get his attention. What's clear is that teachers should not pay for a recession that was none of their business; what Mr Gove must realise is that hammering the profession will lead to declining standards of education as more staff quit and fewer join up. Who will suffer then? Clue, it's not the Education Secretary...

Case against: Indulged

This strike is selfish, plain and simple. The government cannot afford to ring-fence teachers from cuts that need to be made across the public sector. Complaints about the introduction of performance-related pay issue from ineffective teachers who want to cover up their underperformance.  27 per cent of NUT members voted in this ballot, and 40 per cent of NASUWT. The strike can hardly be called a consensus action, then. The Unions represent the unreasonable band of teachers who have been mollycoddled for too long and cannot accept that times have changed.