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Teachers in England and Wales vote for strikes in pay dispute

The National Education Union has declared seven days of walkouts in February and March.

TEACHERS IN ENGLAND and Wales have voted in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay.

Nine out of 10 teacher members of the National Education Union (NEU) voted for strike action and the union passed the 50% ballot turnout required by law.

The union has declared seven days of walkouts in February and March, but it has said any individual school will only be affected by four of the days.

The NEU’s Kevin Courtney described the outcome in England as “the biggest ballot result of any union in recent times”.

The first day of strikes will be on 1 February and more than 23,000 schools in England and Wales are expected to be affected, the NEU has said.

School principals in Wales are also set to take industrial action over pay, but heads in England will not stage strikes after the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) ballot turnout failed to meet the legal threshold.

In England, 90% of NEU teacher members who voted in the ballot backed strikes, with a turnout of 53%.

In Wales, 92% of NEU teacher members who voted in the ballot backed strikes, with a turnout of 58%.

Overall, 300,000 teachers and support staff in England and Wales were asked to vote in the NEU ballot.

Support staff in schools in Wales are also set to go on strike in the dispute over pay after 88% of balloted members backed action, with a turnout of 51%.

However, the NEU’s ballot of support staff in schools and sixth-form colleges in England did not achieve the 50% ballot turnout required by law for action.

The result from the NEU, the largest education union in the UK, comes after a ballot of members of the NASUWT teachers’ union last week failed to reach the 50% turnout threshold.

The NAHT revealed today that 87% of members in England taking part in the union’s pay ballot voted in favour of action short of strikes, while 64% supported strikes.

But the turnout was 42%, which is below the threshold required by law.

The NAHT has said it is considering re-running its industrial action ballot in England due to concern that the democratic process has been compromised amid postal disruption.

The UK’s Department for Education (DfE) has offered a 5% pay rise to most teachers for the current school year, but the NEU is demanding a fully-funded above inflation pay rise for teachers.

The NEU said the vote shows teachers are not prepared to “stand by” and see the education service “sacrificed” due to “a toxic mix of low pay and excessive workload”.

Mary Bousted and Mr Courtney, joint NEU general secretaries, said: “We have continually raised our concerns with successive education secretaries about teacher and support staff pay, and its funding in schools and colleges, but instead of seeking to resolve the issue they have sat on their hands.

“It is disappointing that the Government prefers to talk about yet more draconian anti-strike legislation, rather than work with us to address the causes of strike action.”

The union leaders added that historic real-terms pay cuts for teachers had created an “unsustainable situation” amid a cost-of-living crisis, adding that staff were leaving the profession “in droves”.

“This is a scandalous waste of talent and taxpayers’ money, yet the Government seems unbothered about the conditions they are allowing schools and colleges to slide into,” they said.

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