National teacher strike may go ahead before Christmas

Teacher strike rally Thursday saw the third in a series of regional strikes by teachers over pay, pensions and jobs

Teaching unions say they will press ahead with a one-day national strike before Christmas if a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs is not resolved.

Nearly 3,500 schools were closed or partially closed on Thursday in London, Cumbria, and the South East, North East and South West of England.

This was the third in a rolling campaign of regional walk-outs.

A national strike would include Wales, as teachers' pay and conditions are determined by Westminster.

Teachers are angry about the introduction of performance related pay and changes which mean they will have to work until they are at least 65 to be eligible for a full pension, rising to 68 for those born after 1978, say the unions.

Next steps

They also complain of excessive workloads, changes to their working conditions and job cuts.

Teachers in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber region walked out on 1 October.

This followed a strike across the North West on 27 June.

So far Wales has not been affected by the strikes.

Teachers in Northern Ireland and Scotland deal with their devolved governments on pay and conditions and so will remain unaffected by this dispute.

The NASUWT says it is considering its next steps but it is likely that the planned one-day national strike will go ahead if the government does not address its concerns.

The union's general secretary Chris Keates said: "The rolling programme of strike action has commanded support from the overwhelming majority of teachers.

'Frustration'

"The Secretary of State can no longer claim that the majority of teachers support his reforms. Teachers' anger and frustration is much in evidence and he now needs to begin to seriously address their concerns.

"The NASUWT National Action Committee is keeping matters under review."

The government restated its disappointment that the unions were striking over measures to allow head teachers to pay good teachers more.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said only around a quarter of schools in the targeted regions were closed on Thursday, compared with 60% who walked out in the national strikes of November 2011.

The government says that it has met the unions frequently to discuss their concerns and will continue to do so.

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