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1:08pm UK, Saturday April 07, 2012
Teachers have voted to escalate industrial action, including strikes, over pay and pensions.
Delegates at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Birmingham passed a resolution which said it was “essential to intensify the industrial action campaign” amid a “vicious and unjustified” assault on teachers’ working conditions.
It said continuing the union’s programme of industrial action was “the best means of protecting and safeguarding the interests of teachers and state education until the next general election.”
The move raises the threat of strike action as early as this summer in a growing dispute with the Government over pay freezes, changes to pensions and job losses.
The NUT, which is meeting in Torquay, is also balloting its members on a wave of fresh walkouts.
Renewed coordinated protests by both unions could affect the main exams period, disrupt classrooms at the start of the new school year in the autumn and cause chaos for working parents.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “The NASUWT has been in continuous action short of strike since December 2011 in an attempt to get the Government to focus on the real concerns of the profession and realise the effect their attacks are having, not just on teachers and their ability to do their job, but also on children and young people.”
She added: “Teachers do not feel there is any area of their working lives the Government has not trampled over and it is impairing their ability to focus on raising standards for pupils.
“If the Government commits to engaging constructively with the NASUWT there should be no need to move to further industrial action but we have reached a point where we feel we have no choice but to take steps to defend teacher professionalism from these attacks.”
The NUT claims government reforms will leave teachers paying more into their pension pots – and working for longer, for less.
It is calling for “all possible forms of joint strike and non-strike action” to “defeat the Government’s proposals”.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower insisted any action would not be “deliberately” scheduled to coincide with the run-up to pupils taking their GCSEs and A-Levels.
“Our dispute is with the Secretary of State (Michael Gove), and ultimately, with the rest of the Government in terms of public sector pensions,” she said.
“We will obviously, when we discuss with other unions, discuss what timing makes sense and which regions make sense, but we would not be setting out, deliberately, to undermine the exams season.”
Previous national walkouts took place in June and November last year.
Members of the NASUWT, gathering in Birmingham, are to propose further industrial action amid a “vicious and unjustified assault” on teachers’ working conditions.
Protesters carry placards during a previous walkout on November 30
A Department for Education spokesman said the teachers’ pensions deal is “as good as it gets”.
“It guarantees teachers one of the best pensions available but keeps a lid on rising costs for the taxpayer,” he said.
“We’ve been in serious talks for months with unions to address their concerns and reach a final settlement.
“Reforms to public sector pensions are essential – the status quo is not an option.”
The ballots for strike action come as a new poll suggests 42% of teachers are facing abuse from pupils and parents on the internet.
A separate poll, commissioned by the NUT, suggests teachers are feeling demoralised and overworked.
Some 42% of teachers said their morale was low and 58% complained of constant external criticism.
Around 71% said an excessive workload would be the main factor to influence their decision to quit the profession, while 56% cited changes to pay and pensions.