“Today, there were two budget statements: one from the Chancellor, and another on the streets which surround Parliament.”Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the NEU
By the National Education Union (NEU)
Commenting on today’s industrial action in England and gathering of members at Trafalgar Square, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union, said:
“Today, there were two budget statements: one from the Chancellor, and another on the streets which surround Parliament. The voices came from across England, en masse, representing public sector workers who today have taken strike action. This includes NEU members who work in schools and colleges, uniting to speak as one at a huge Trafalgar Square rally.
“We are very proud of the teachers who took to picket lines this morning, where they were joined by parents and supported by the general public who honked their cars. We are proud of those many thousands of members who joined us in London to amplify the message that Jeremy Hunt must save our schools.
“The latest Parentkind poll shows that support for the teacher strikes has grown, not fallen. In addition, 72% agree that teachers should receive a pay settlement in line with current inflation. 83% are concerned about teacher shortages.
“This is what we know. One in four teachers leaves within three years of qualification – a third within five. Teachers work more unpaid overtime than any other profession. The Government missed its target for recruiting new secondary school teachers by 41% this year. Experienced teachers have seen a 23% real-terms pay cut since 2010.
“These are the reasons why we are striking, for the good of the education service as a whole. Parents understand very well what is at stake. Through serial neglect, and over more than a decade, this Government has driven schools and colleges into the ground. Our children deserve so much better.
“A fully-funded, above inflation pay rise for all teachers would go a long way to address the issues facing schools and colleges. It would have a profound and positive effect on the current recruitment and retention crisis. We could then work to address the factors driving up workload, and ensure a talented workforce can remain in the job they love rather than leave through exhaustion. The benefits to the pupils they teach would be profound and immediate.
“Gillian Keegan could end this dispute by engaging in formal talks with us, but the only hindrance to talks has been Gillian Keegan herself. The NEU has always been ready to meet to discuss pay and resolve this dispute, but the Education Secretary’s precondition of first calling off strike action – unprecedented in previous talks, and not a factor for Wales or Scotland – has been put in the way. We would meet immediately if she were to drop it.
“From Thursday night, Gillian Keegan will have no further excuse to delay talks, since we currently have no further strike dates identified. We hope that this opportunity is not squandered, and this dispute can be resolved. The Education Secretary must now recognise her responsibility to invest in the education of this generation of children, hit so hard by Covid, and to invest in those who teach them.”
- This article was originally published by the National Education Union (NEU) on March 15th, 2023.
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