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  1. ITV Report

Teachers vote to consider striking over pay

Schoolchildren across the country could face disruption if walkouts were to go ahead. Credit: PA

Teacher strikes over pay have moved a step closer after two major unions voted in favour of industrial action to secure wage hikes.

Members of the NASUWT union, meeting at its annual conference in Birmingham, voted unanimously in favour of considering the use of rolling industrial action if the Government fails to ensure a better pay deal for workers.

Meanwhile in Brighton, the NUT section of the National Education Union (NEU) committed to balloting its members for strikes if its demands over pay are not met.

The two unions represent the majority of teachers who belong to a union.

Teachers are calling for a pay rise to tackle issues with recruitment and retention in the profession.

Schoolchildren across the country could face disruption if walkouts were to go ahead.

Teachers have not had a pay rise above 1% in the last seven years due to the Government's austerity measures. Other public sector workers have also been affected.

The motions being considered are calling for a pay rise of 5% for teachers.

According to the Government, the average teacher earns £37,400, rising to £41,900 in London.

Teachers are calling for a pay rise to tackle issues with recruitment and retention in the profession. Credit: PA

Introducing the motion at the NASUWT conference, Steve Thompson, a teacher from Leeds, said: "It's clear to all why there is a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession.

"There is only one way to address this - the pay cap must be lifted.

"It's clear that a substantial, above inflation rise in teachers' pay is required and is long overdue."

The unanimous vote means the NASUWT's executive will meet at a later date and decide whether to ballot members on the use of rolling strike action.

Proposing the NEU resolution, Lisa Murray from Lewes, Eastbourne, told delegates that at her school, along with six others in East Sussex, union members are being balloted for action over pay in their area.

"Our teachers are fed up with low pay, erosion of pay structures and watching teachers leaving the profession," she said.

"They deserve better and more importantly, they want to do something about it."

Jane Nellist, of the union's executive, said that the union needs a "coherent and determined campaign that must involve industrial action".

"The Government is weak, but it is still dangerous," she said.

"It is still refusing to halt the huge haemorrhaging of teachers and they have failed to meet their own targets on recruitment."

The motion, which was overwhelmingly backed by delegates, calls for an immediate pay rise for teachers of at least 5% "to begin restoring the cuts in living standards all school staff have suffered".

It argues that teacher pay increases have been around 15% lower than inflation rates since 2010, leading to a real terms pay cut.

In addition, it includes a call for a clear limit on teachers' working hours.

The resolution commits the union to balloting members for walkouts "at the earliest opportunity" in the next academic year, if their pay demands are not met.

In response to Saturday's vote, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said they wanted "to continue to attract and keep the best and brightest people in our schools".

They continued they had "already given schools freedom over staff pay and have asked the independent School Teachers' Review Body to take account of the Government's flexible approach to public sector pay as they develop their recommendation...

"That's why the Education Secretary recently announced a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers, working with the unions and professional bodies, and pledged to strip away workload that doesn't add value in the classroom."