Teachers strikes: expenses and workloads are driving professors out of classrooms

Tens of thousands of schools across England and Wales have closed their doors today as teachers have hit the picket line over pay disputes and workload pressures.

The National Education Union (NEU), the largest education union in the UK, has announced seven days of strikes in February and March, with the first walkout occurring today – affecting over 23,000 schools.

empty classroom

Making history – today’s industrial action is known as the biggest teachers shutdown for three decades – the action has come as a result of last-minute talks with Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, falling through on Monday in a bid to resolve the pay dispute.

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint General Secretaries of the NEU, said: ‘Gillian Keegan has squandered an opportunity to avoid strike action on Wednesday.

‘The government has been unwilling to seriously engage with the causes of strike action. Real terms pay cuts in pay relatives are leading to a recruitment and retention crisis with which the Education Secretary, so far, seems incapable of getting a grip.’

Teachers have been offered a 5% pay rise by the Department of Education, but the NEU is demanding a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise for teachers. Not only are staff members struggling to cope with the current cost-of-living, but pay rises are being taken from school budgets which have been set aside to improve school environments.

Responding to the teachers striking, Gillian Keegan has said she is ‘disappointed’ it has come to this.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Ms Keegan said: ‘I am disappointed that it has come to this, that the unions have made this decision. It is not a last resort. We are still in discussions. Obviously, there is a lot of strike action today, but this strike did not need to go ahead.

‘We are hoping as many schools as possible stay open. We know that head teachers and other school leaders have been working really hard to keep schools open for as many kids as possible.’

Teachers and university professors that have decided to strike today are part of the half a million public service workers that have engaged in industrial action. Alongside classroom staff, Train Drivers and Civil Servants have engaged in industrial action – Britain has been hit by the biggest strike in more than 10 years.

This month, nurses are also set to launch their biggest strike action yet, with members of staff walking out due to double in size.

Photo by Barry Zhou


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