Somerset teachers “do not want to strike”
The National Education Union (NEU) yesterday said that their members in Somerset “do not want to strike.” However they feel they have no choice. Neil Apps, NEU Somerset Committee, pointed out that their dispute is not with Multi Academy Trusts or schools. They do not set rates of pay for teachers.
However says Mr Apps “government ….has refused to negotiate. They offered a 5% pay-rise, but with inflation soaring what this amounted to was a 7% pay cut.” He adds that the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that in real terms, salaries are now 15% lower than they were in 2010.
However the Union are also sympathetic to the plight of the schools they work in. Pointing out that the 5% pay rise was not offered, will not be funded by any increase in school’s budgets. This makes even the pay rise on offer difficult for schools to manage without making cuts elsewhere.
The stagnation in pay is also having a profound impact on recruitment . Figures provided by the NEU suggest one in four teachers leave the profession within two years of qualifying. There is also a struggle to get students interested in training to be teachers. New entrants for secondary school teacher training places were just 59% of the government target last year.
All told, Mr Apps says that teachers feel they have no option but to strike. There will be four strike days in Somerset schools: 1st February, 2nd March and 15th & 16th March.