The Telegraph reports that schools could be closed or partially shut well into the spring term because of a bitter stand-off between Britain’s two biggest teaching unions and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary…
The National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT – collectively representing nine-in-10 teachers – are demanding high level talks over a series of controversial education reforms.
Union leaders have been angered by the planned introduction of a system performance related pay in schools and an overhaul of public sector pensions that will see teachers work for longer and retire with a smaller retirement fund.
On Thursday, teachers took part in the latest in a series of regional strikes as part of a long-running protest over the proposals, with staff walking out of schools across London, the South East, South West, North East and Cumbria. It came on top of previous action in the North West and Midlands.
A national strike is now being planned for before Christmas in a move that will cause millions of parents to pay for childcare or take the day off work to look after sons and daughters.
The Coalition insisted that the strikes were unjustified and were “not going to change Government policy”.
But speaking to the Telegraph, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, indicated that a refusal to hold meaningful talks could lead to an extension of industrial action into the new year.
“The issues are of such importance that our campaign of action will continue,” she said. “We will obviously be meeting shortly with our colleagues in the NUT to review where we go next, but I’m sure part of that will be to give the Secretary of State another opportunity to engage in talks with us.”
She said similar industrial action had already been called off in Wales after the Welsh government agreed to talks, adding: “The strike in England has been forced on us for two reasons: One, that the Secretary of State won’t take seriously the concerns of teachers and, two, that he won’t engage in genuine discussion.”
Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “We do not want to be on strike but if we do not make teaching attractive there will be huge problems for recruiting and retaining good teachers.
“We urge the Government to set aside their prejudices and talk to the profession for the sake of everyone.”…
Do you believe the appetite is there for increased and escalating strike action amongst teachers? Please share in the comments or on twitter…