Up to 500,000 employees in the public sector are anticipated to walk off the job on Wednesday, February 1, as Rishi Sunak's administration continues to deal with an ongoing wave of labour unrest. They will be joined by government employees from various departments, train drivers, teachers and university staff.
According to The Guardian, the National Education Union (NEU) is requesting an above-inflation wage increase, to be completely paid by the Treasury, so that schools won't have to make cuts to their already limited finances. Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, further stated that, since the outcome of the strike ballot was made public, the NEU had acquired over 34,000 new members.
England is included in the education secretary Gillian Keegan's purview. On Wednesday, teachers in Wales will also have teachers’ strikes. Meanwhile, strikes are already ongoing in Scotland.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) stated last week that, if salary negotiations with the Department for Education fall through, its members will vote again on strike action.
Many members complained that they were unable to vote because postal services were disrupted, which contributed to the NAHT strike ballot that was started last year failing to meet the 50% voting criterion. Additionally, the NAHT released their statement to the School Teacher Review Board, an independent pay body, for the 2023–24 pay round. Here, it reported that an increasing number of school administrators were quitting their jobs.
Sunak and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have emphasised repeatedly that they are not inclined to reconsider the deals for public servants for the present year as doing so could increase inflation. Although teachers received an average raise of around 5%, many experienced a sizable real-terms wage reduction due to double-digit inflation. According to a recent calculation by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, top teachers' income has actually decreased by £6,600 from 2010.
The shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, told The Guardian: “This isn’t just about pay. It’s about the fact that they feel undervalued and under-appreciated for the work that they do. Like all parents, I’m concerned about the disruption that will cause. But the only reason these strikes are happening is because government ministers haven’t been serious about negotiating.”
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