Shropshire Star

Shropshire teachers may have to consider exam strikes in pay dispute, says union secretary

A Shropshire union leader has warned that teachers could be driven to strike during exams if the Government does not improve its pay offer.

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NEU members took part in a protest in Shrewsbury's Square last month.

John Boken, Shropshire branch secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said that members had been "very, very angry" over the latest offer from the Government.

Following weeks of talks, the Government offered teachers what the NEU says amounts to a £1,000 one-off cash payment for the present school year and a 4.3 per cent consolidated pay rise for most teachers the following year.

The NEU has said it does not believe the pay offer is fully funded – meaning schools would have to use their own existing budgets to pay for it.

The Government has said that the offer is "fair and reasonable" and acknowledges the "hard work and dedication" of teachers.

Mr Boken said: "Initially I just thought it was truly awful. I thought it would be bad but I didn't realise how bad it would be, because in reality they are only going to fund a fraction of the pay rise then expect schools to fund the rest of the money, which is ridiculous because they do not have the funds to cover pay rises at all."

He added: "It is just shocking and even more so, not only are they not giving us a fully-funded pay rise, but they are also not going to try and improve our conditions."

Mr Boken said he believed teachers may have to consider further strikes – potentially during up-coming exam periods.

He said: "I think some of the members are coming to the realisation that we might have to do something more extreme and if it is hitting exam period then that is something members will seriously have to consider.

"A lot of our members do not think the Government is taking us seriously or has any respect for the profession."

Mr Boken also urged parents to lobby in support of the campaign, which he said was part of ensuring better education for pupils.

He said: "They need to be writing off to their MPs and putting pressure on the Government because they are the ones in control. They can end this tomorrow by saying they can give us a fully-funded pay rise."

The Government described its offer to teachers as “fair and reasonable”.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said: “The Government and the education unions – NAHT, ASCL, NEU and NASUWT – have engaged in intensive discussions over the last 10 days.

“The Government has put forward a fair and reasonable offer, backed with funding for schools.

“The offer provides an average 4.5 per cent pay rise for next year, puts £1,000 into the pockets of teachers as a one-off payment for this year, and commits to reducing workload by five hours each week.

“This is a good deal for teachers that acknowledges their hard work and dedication.”