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NASUWT plans consultative ballot over pay and workload

NASUWT has become the second education union to announce plans to run a consultative ballot of members, as leaders gear up for a fresh showdown with the government over pay and workload.

The National Education Union announced last month that it would hold an indicative ballot over potential strike action.

Such votes are used by unions to gauge the appetite of their members for industrial action, but a formal ballot must be held to authorise walk-outs.

Now NASUWT has confirmed it too will hold a consultative ballot over the “coming weeks” to “take forward its campaigning, up to and including industrial action, to secure a better deal for teachers on pay, workload, working hours and wellbeing”.

The two votes come amid increasing tension between government and unions over next year’s pay deal.

In December, education secretary Gillian Keegan told the body tasked with making recommendations on teacher pay to consider evidence on the “impact of pay rises on schools’ budgets”.

Unions have taken this as a sign that ministers will sign off a below-inflation pay rise.

It comes after all four school sector unions last year accepted a 6.5 per cent rise for teachers, ending strike action by the NEU and averting strike action by the NASUWT and leadership unions ASCL and the NAHT.

However, NASUWT did instruct members to take action short of strike action by limiting their working time from last September.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT’s general secretary, said there was “increasing anger once again from our members about the lack of progress being made by the government on workload, working hours, working conditions and pay”.

‘Limitations on pay review body’

He said Keegan “needs to demonstrate that she understands the urgency of the situation and come forward rapidly with robust measures that will have a significant and material impact on improving teachers’ working conditions”.

But he said he was “also concerned that the limitations imposed on the pay review body by the education secretary have removed any last shred of confidence that the government would be at least willing to consider the need for a programme of pay restoration for teachers”.

NASUWT has also today published the results of a survey of 7,000 of its members in England’s state schools.

They found 72 per cent said workload had increased since the start of the academic year, while 65 per cent said they had raised concerns about their workload with their school.

Seventy-two per cent said no measures had been put in place by their school to “remedy concerns raised”.

Just over 60 per cent said their average working week was between 50 and 69 hours during term time. A fifth said they worked between 60 and 69 hours. Four per cent reported working between 70 and 79 hours.

Three in 10 said they were expected “routinely” to read and respond to emails in the evenings, weekends or during holidays. Seventy-one per cent said they did not get a guaranteed and uninterrupted lunch break.

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