Teachers’ unions blast ‘out of touch’ government after leaked pay rise recommendation

'It must now urgently reopen serious negotiations'

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Teachers’ unions have slammed the government as ‘out of touch’ following a leaked story that the school teachers review body (STRB) will recommend a 6.5% pay rise for teachers.  

Reacting to a report in the Sunday Times that claimed the STRB will recommend a teachers’ pay increase that exceeds the previous government offer, unions have urged the education secretary to reopen negotiations.

The National Education Union (NEU) blasted the last government pay offer of 4.5% as ‘insulting’ whilst the NAHT school leaders’ union called it ‘inadequate’, before it was rejected by their members.

Following the rejection, the government said, going forward, they would revert to the supposedly independent review body to process an offer on teachers’ pay for the next academic year.  

So the news comes as a blow to Tory ministers who have been continually accused of hiding behind the review body to avoid presenting a new pay offer.

The NAHT union said the pay recommendation has showed the government up as ‘out of touch’, before they urged the education secretary Gillian Keegan to ‘urgently’ reopen pay talks.

The school leaders’ union wrote: “Education is in crisis and the government now needs to listen to the profession and let us help them solve the crisis.

“6.5% would be progress, but we have deep recruitment and retention issues.

“The government needs to fully fund the award and resolve the pay dispute for the current financial year, as well as making big changes to ease workload and inspection pressures.

“It must now urgently reopen serious negotiations.”

Dr Patrick Roach general secretary of the NASUWT union for teachers said the recommendation was ‘further evidence’ that the government’s position ‘isn’t credible or justifiable.’

He added that industrial action shouldn’t be necessary, but that the government had no excuses in ensuring staff have the pay awards they deserve and that schools are receiving the funding they need.

Addressing members, NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney called the report a ‘breakthrough’ in their campaign for fair pay and conditions, but that many questions remained unanswered.

“If it’s true, it’s more than Gillian Keegan’s evidence to the STRB and her latest offer to you,” said Courtney.

“That doesn’t mean it’s enough, but it’s a breakthrough occasioned by your campaigning.”

He added that it was evidence their campaign was starting to ‘bear fruit’, before urging members to vote in their current re-ballot.

However Courtney added that unions were still being kept in the dark over the content of the review body report, which apparently landed on Keegan’s desk last Tuesday.

“Gillian Keegan must now break cover from Sanctuary Buildings,” urged joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Courtney.

“She must publish the STRB report. She must invite the teacher and leader unions into the DfE and be absolutely clear about whether, and when she intends, or not, to implement the STRB’s recommendations in full, or as we would argue to go beyond them.”

“She must make it clear if she intends to fully fund it.

“She must also commit to meaningful discussions on this year’s pay and on reducing excessive teacher workload and to reforming the accountability system for schools.”

They added that trust in the education secretary was currently at ‘rock bottom’.

“We will hold Gillian Keegan and the Government to account to ensure they invest in this generation of children, their schools and colleges and the people who work in them”.

Teachers’ unions NEU, ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT are currently re-balloting their members for industrial action for the Autumn term.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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