Teachers threaten strikes over pay and 98% oppose Sunak's wage squeeze

Teachers threaten strike action over pay: One in three are so ‘disillusioned’ they want to quit and 98% oppose Rishi Sunak’s ‘unfair’ pay squeeze (to pay for cash given out when schools were closed)

  • Over 95% of teachers oppose the public sector pay freeze according to a survey
  • Nasuwt teaching union say 62% of teachers would hold a day of action against it
  • Teachers are set for a real-term cut of 5% in pay according to research from IFS

Most teachers oppose the pay freeze set by the Government for school staff, according to a survey by the Nasuwt teaching union, which found that one in 10 have taken on a second job and some have resorted to food banks.

The vast majority of 11,000 respondents to a survey, 98%, said they disagreed with a pay freeze implemented by the Government for teachers and other public sector workers for 2021/22.

In November 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak imposed a one-year pay freeze on more than one million public sector workers in response to the ‘economic emergency’ created by the pandemic.

The decision was made to help plug the hole in the public finances opened up by the pandemic, and offset the impact of job saving measures like the furlough scheme.

In March this year, the Government called for teacher starting salaries to rise by over 16% over the next two years, to bring them up to £30,000 by September 2023.

The Department for Education has said it wants statutory starting pay to increase by 8.9% this year and 7.1% next year.

But the proposed increases for more experienced staff are lower, and the Institute of Fiscal Studies has said that given rising levels of inflation, the proposals for teacher pay would see a real-terms cut of 5% for more experienced staff between 2021 and 2023.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (pictured) announced that teachers’ starting salaries would hit £30,000 by September 2023, after pausing public sector wage increases for a year in 2020, but many teacher still feel their wages are too low

Naswut’s new general secretary Patrick Roach said the government need to increase wages ‘urgently’ to ‘secure the future of education’, as their research finds nearly all teachers disagree with Rishi Sunak’s previous pay freeze

Out of over 10,700 respondents, 62% said they would support a joint day of strike action with other education unions in support of pay increases.

Around four in 10 members, 42%, said they would support more than one day of joint strike action over the issue.

A quarter of respondents, 25%, would support over one day of strike action with Nasuwt acting alone.

Just 15% said they would not be prepared to take any form of industrial action to campaign for more pay.

 Most teachers, 80%, said Nasuwt should focus on campaigning for all teachers to get the same percentage pay rise, regardless of their experience, whereas just 28% said that the union should prioritise campaigning for teachers’ starting salaries to rise to £30,000. 

A third of Nasuwt respondents, 33%, said that the union should prioritise campaigning for pay rises for more experienced teachers.

Nearly two thirds of those surveyed, 64%, said that they were ‘really angry’ about pay, and felt that teachers were treated ‘unfairly’ by the Government.

Over a third, 35%, said they were so ‘disillusioned’ by their pay they wanted to leave the profession, and 21% said they were so angry about pay they felt industrial action was necessary.

A majority of teachers, 89%, said that they were somewhat or very worried about their financial situation.

Nasuwt found that seven in 10 teachers had considered leaving their job over the last 12 months, with nearly half stating that their pay was affecting their intention to leave.

The teachers union Naswut has voted in favour of industrial actions to force the government to produce a ‘programme of restorative pay awards for teachers’ (stock photo) 

They found that 54% of teachers had cut down on food spending and 40% had reduced spending on essential household items.

Over one in 10 said they had to take a second job to make ends meet while 1% said they had had to use a food bank.

On Saturday, Nasuwt voted to ‘mobilise members for national industrial action, up to and including strike action, in the event that any government or administration fails to deliver a programme of restorative pay awards for teachers’.

Nasuwt general secretary Patrick Roach said: ‘Over a decade of cuts to teachers pay cannot continue to be endured by the profession.

‘Teachers are leaving the profession with many more seriously considering it and pay is one of the main reasons.

‘We cannot allow the recruitment and retention crisis to continue and worsen, which is damaging children’s education.

‘Governments and administrations must urgently secure the future of education by delivering a serious programme of increased pay awards.

‘Conference has delivered a clear message that ministers will be responsible for any disruption caused by their failure to deliver an immediate programme of restorative pay awards for teachers.’

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