Education & Family

Teaching union ATL to debate industrial action over pay

Secondary classroom
Image caption The ATL says teachers have had no pay increase for two years

A teachers' union is to debate taking industrial action amid claims of a "serious decline" in pay.

Many education staff face financial hardship, says the motion to be considered by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers at its annual conference next week.

And it says the ATL should discuss joint action on pay with fellow unions.

The Department for Education says pay rises of up to 2% are available for the best teachers.

Below inflation

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said members were worried that below-inflation pay rises were having an impact on schools' ability to recruit and retain teachers, with younger teachers leaving the profession only a few years after qualifying.

"Teachers have had no pay increase for two years, and three years with a 1% pay increase," said Dr Bousted.

The union's calculations suggest that by last December the real value of teachers' pay had fallen by 12% under the coalition government.

Dr Bousted said this could be a conservative estimate: "It you look at a 12% decline, you can calculate it in different ways and it's even worse".

The motion, from the union's branches in Brent, Cumbria and Oxfordshire, calls on the conference to voice concern "at the serious decline in the real levels of pay of teachers, lecturers and support staff and the failure of government and employers to seek to reverse this decline."

Image caption The ATL should approach other unions, which have already taken strike action, to consider joint action over pay, says the conference motion

It argues teachers may have lost as much as 15% in the value of their salaries over the past few years.

It calls on the ATL's executive committee "to campaign for the education sector to have a significant pay rise and to make approaches to our sister unions to discuss and, if necessary, take part in joint action to start the process of our real levels of pay".

Dr Bousted described the motion as "perfectly proper", adding that without real action to restore teachers' pay, this is "a debate that the ATL would have to have".

Performance pay

The motion also says pay awards for the education profession should be kept separate from performance-related pay.

This month, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan confirmed schools would be given the power to hand top-performing teachers a pay rise of up to 2%.

She said she was adopting the recommendations of the School Teachers Review Body - of an overall rise of 1% for teachers, adding that the upper end of the main pay band would increase by 2%, with schools able to award this based on performance.

Dr Bousted said performance-related pay risked discriminating against women, ethnic minorities and older teachers.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the deal "which gives heads the freedom to offer their best and most experienced teachers a 2% rise" was "only possible because we trust heads and governors to decide how to reward their staff".

"Public sector pay restraint has helped us to protect vital public service jobs while we deal with Britain's deep financial problems. But it has meant that any pay increases for teachers have had to stay within the 1% pay limit."

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