…By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
Union leaders from the National Education Union (NEU) have announced that teachers will initiate fresh strikes in July if their ongoing dispute over pay remains unresolved by mid-June.
The NEU emphasized that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan could prevent further industrial action by addressing not only pay concerns but also other pressing issues such as recruitment.
Education Secretary’s Decision Holds Key to Avoiding Strikes
During a meeting of the union’s national executive, joint general secretaries Dr. Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney highlighted that the Education Secretary now possesses the School Teachers’ Review Body’s report on pay.
They stressed that Keegan has the authority to reject, accept, or amend the recommendations made by the STRB and to provide full funding for her decision.
Addressing Teacher Pay and Recruitment Challenges
The NEU leaders outlined the potential positive outcomes if the Education Secretary makes the right decisions.
They stated that adequately funding schools, addressing the decline in teacher pay, and acknowledging its consequences on recruitment and retention could set the education system on a better path.
They also emphasized that making these correct choices could potentially avert further strike action.
Next Steps and Strike Action Decision
The NEU executive is scheduled to convene again on June 17, at which point they hope Keegan will have engaged in discussions with teacher and headteacher unions regarding the STRB report and her response to it.
Additionally, they expect discussions on workload and this year’s unresolved pay issue.
If the dispute remains unsettled by that time, the executive will decide on further strike action during the week commencing July 3.
Union Balloting Members for New Mandate
In conjunction with these developments, the NEU is conducting a re-ballot of its members to secure a renewed mandate for continued industrial action over the next six months.
This demonstrates the union’s determination to advocate for teachers’ rights and address their concerns regarding pay and related issues.