Pupils at Derbyshire schools face disruption as strike action looms over 'attack on teachers' pay'
LESSONS for pupils in schools across Derbyshire are likely to be disrupted later this year as the two main teaching unions take on the Government over pay and conditions.
A series of walkouts are planned during the summer and autumn, culminating in a national strike before Christmas.
Local representatives of the two unions – National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and National Union of Teachers – are fully supportive of the national action.
But Derby-based Voice: the union for education professionals, which does not take strike action, said the walkout would only harm children and not Education Secretary Michael Gove.
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The dispute is part of a continuing row over pay, pensions and workload and the unions have already been taking action, short of striking, by cutting back on bureaucracy and parents' meetings.
They have decided to escalate their action because the unions claim Mr Gove is not engaging in any meaningful dialogue over the dispute.
Welcoming the action, Sue Arguile, division secretary of Derby NUT, said: "A society gets the teachers it pays for and if we do not have decently paid teachers and a transparent pay structure, we will not be able to retain experienced teachers.
"This could lead to general de-skilling within the profession and a lowering of standards. The NUT sees the attack on teachers' pay as part of a much wider attack on the state education."
The last time the two unions took joint national action was during a public sector strike in November 2011.
Dave Wilkinson, NASUWT branch secretary, said: "Teachers in Derby have suffered alongside other teachers across the UK at the hands of this Government.
"Two years of pay freezes, pay cuts because of pension contribution increases and a pension age of 68 have been endured by Derby teachers."
But Voice general secretary Deborah Lawson, said: "We also opposes many of Mr Gove's policies because they damage both the teaching profession and children's education – but so does going on strike.
"There is little public support for strike action by teachers because it disrupts children's education and parents' lives, rather than the Government responsible for the disputed policies."
A Government spokesman said that less than a quarter of teachers had voted for industrial action.
He said: "We think giving schools the freedom to reward good performance is much fairer than current arrangements which see the vast majority of teachers automatically getting a pay rise each year.
"We have met frequently with the NUT and NASUWT to discuss their concerns and will continue to do so."