On Thursday of last week (March 6th 2008) the Committee of Oxfordshire Division of the NUT confirmed the decision taken at its recent Annual General Meeting to support fully the recommendation from Steve Sinnott (General Secretary) and the National Executive to vote in favour of strike action on pay.
Teachers have had imposed upon them a 2.45% increase from September of this year when the Retail Price Index is running at around 4%, and pay increases in the private sector are averaging the same figure. This would be the first year of a three year pay settlement, which sets below inflation pay rises until 2011, and forms part of the government’s attempts to hold down public sector pay. Teachers’ pay was already increased by less than inflation in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
If teachers’ pay increases had simply been equal to inflation since 2005:
· The starting pay for newly qualified teachers would, in September 2008, be almost £1000 a year higher, helping them face the burden of student debt and the ever-rising costs of housing and transport;
· The pay rate for a more experienced teacher on the maximum of the Upper Pay Scale would be over £1600 a year higher;
· The average teacher’s pay will not provide enough for a mortgage for the average house price in Oxfordshire;
· Public sector pay increases do not cause inflation. Not even the Governor of the Bank of England supports the Government’s claims that public sector pay increases will lead to a rise in inflation. Increases in earnings and pay settlements in the private sector are rising on average by over 4 per cent. The pay of chief executives of the top 100 companies went up by 37 per cent last year.
Many NUT members, whilst angry about pay, state that workload is also still a serious concern. The Office of Manpower Economics 2007 survey showed that teachers work on average more than 50 hours a week. Much of this workload burden, which detracts teachers from their core role of teaching, stems from the government and is associated with externally imposed targets, league tables, Ofsted Inspections and performance management
Teachers are now being paid less for doing more!
The ballot is a significant step in the NUT campaign against below inflation pay rises. It is a serious challenge to the Government and could lead to the first national strike by teachers for more than twenty years.