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Teachers in England and Wales have voted in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay. The National Education Union (NEU) 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.
Nine out of 10 teacher members of the NEU voted for strike action and the union passed the 50 per cent ballot turnout required by law. The NEU’s Kevin Courtney described the outcome in England as 'the biggest ballot result of any union in recent times'.
Here everything you need to know about the upcoming strike action and when London schools may be affected.
READ MORE: Full list of all the strikes this week from London buses to nurses and teachers as they walk out over pay
(Image: Getty Images)
The first day of strikes will be on February 1 and more than 23,000 schools in England and Wales are expected to be affected, the NEU has said. In London, the main strike day is Thursday, March 2.
Here are all the dates announced by the National Education Union (NEU) for industrial action and who will take part:Wednesday, February 1: all eligible members in England and Wales Tuesday, February 14: all eligible members in Wales Tuesday, February 28: all eligible members in the Northern, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber regions in England Wednesday, March 1: all eligible members in the East Midlands, West Midlands and Eastern regions in England Thursday, March 2: all eligible members in the London, South East and South West regions in England Wednesday, March 15: all eligible members in England and Wales Thursday, March 16: all eligible members in England and Wales
The NEU has said there will also be rallies held on March 15 at Westminster to address the Government there and in Cardiff to address the Welsh Government.
In England, 90 per cent of NEU teacher members who voted in the ballot backed strikes, with a turnout of 53 per cent (vs 92 per cent in favour in Wales)
The Department for Education (DfE) has offered a 5 per cent 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. Dr Bousted and Mr Courtney added: “It continues to be the aspiration of the NEU and its membership that this dispute can be resolved without recourse to strike action.
“We regret having to take strike action, and are willing to enter into negotiations at any time, any place, but this situation cannot go on.”
Dr Bousted told an online briefing announcing the ballot results that the NEU will meet with Ms Keegan on Wednesday and will have “strength in the negotiations” after the vote.
She said: “They (the Government) know that we mean business. They know that you are prepared to take action to protect your jobs, to protect your pay and costs, and to protect your ability to remain in the profession.
Ms Keegan has called the strike vote “deeply disappointing” and argued it “will have a damaging impact on pupils’ education and wellbeing”. But Dr Bousted insisted strike action is “absolutely not designed” to hurt or disadvantage pupils or parents.
The NEU said teachers in sixth-form colleges in England, who have already been balloted and been on strike in recent months, will also take part in action on the strike days between February 1 and March 16.
Ahead of the strike ballot results on Monday, Downing Street urged teachers not to strike and inflict “substantial damage” to children’s education. he Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We would continue to call on teachers not to strike given we know what substantial damage was caused to children’s education during the pandemic and it’s certainly not something we want to see repeated.
“We would hope they would continue to discuss with us their concerns rather than withdraw education from children.”