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NASUWT: 78% reject move to formal pay strike ballot

Members of the NASUWT teaching union have voted by 78 per cent to reject moving to a formal ballot for strike action over pay and workload.

The union, which had around 270,000 members across the UK as of August 2022, said “political campaigning to secure a government prepared to fix the damage inflicted on the education service over the last 14 years must now be the priority”.

Its membership “have no confidence in the current government’s ability to deliver the changes needed”.

Teachers “need change from a new government that is committed to delivering a new deal for teachers and education”.

According to the union, 78 per cent “of eligible members surveyed in the union’s latest consultative ballot did not support moving to a national statutory ballot for industrial action at this time”.

Schools Week understands the union is not ruling out balloting its members at a later date, however. A motion calling on NASUWT’s executive to “consider a further national ballot for industrial action on pay” has also been tabled at its conference this weekend.

NASUWT has not yet released the wording of the ballot, nor has it said what the turnout was.

However, the announcement in February stated that it gave members “the opportunity to tell us whether you want to take industrial action on pay, workload, working hours and wellbeing”.

‘Not the time for gesture politics and token action’

Dr Patrick Roach, the union’s general secretary, said the government “has run out of time to fix the problems of 14 years of neglect and decline”.

Dr Patrick Roach

“It would be a fantasy for the prime minister to pretend that he can claim the support of teachers at the general election by simply riding out the next few months and doing nothing.”

He said members would be looking “carefully at how the government responds” to the School Teachers’ Review Body recommendations on pay for 2024-25 and its own workload taskforce and “whether ministers will once again seek to dither, delay and play for time”.

“This is not the time for gesture politics and token action. The country is desperate for real change.

“The general election will be a crucial test of the government’s education record and its commitment to the future of the teaching profession.”

‘Prioritise political campaigning’

NASUWT’s conference in Harrogate will today debate a motion asserting “that the outcome of the next UK general election must be a turning point for the future of our schools and colleges and for the future of the teaching profession”.

The next government “must be one that will commit to delivering a new deal for teachers”.

This must address the “spiral of decline across the UK with regard to teachers’ pay, morale, wellbeing, job satisfaction, recruitment, retention and the status of teachers”.

They also want to address the “rampant discrimination and exploitation of teachers by school and college employers, employment agencies and umbrella companies”.

Conference “deplores the actions of the Conservative government in holding the country’s teachers, children and young people to ransom by failing to set a date for the general election”.

A new deal “will only be secured when there is a government in Westminster that is on the side of our teachers, education and public services, and that political campaigning must now take priority over industrial action”.

It comes after the National Education Union announced yesterday that around nine in 10 voting members had backed strike action in its indicative ballot, on a turnout of 50.3 per cent.

Its executive will meet on Tuesday ahead of its own conference in Bournemouth to decide next steps.

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