THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE of the National Education Union (NEU) has agreed two further days of strike action in England this term. The days of action will be on Wednesday 5 July and Friday 7 July.

These strike days are covered by an existing ballot of members, which closed in January. Legislation requires that after six months, the ballot is renewed. The NEU’s re-ballot for strike action opened on 15 May and will close on 28 July. In parallel to this, the education unions ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT are also balloting members in pursuance of improved pay and funding for teachers in England. The NEU re-ballot and the ballots by the other unions will allow coordinated action in the Autumn term if there is no settlement to the dispute.

Commenting on the latest strike days, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the NEU, said: “It is within Gillian Keegan’s grasp for this action to be halted. Time and again the National Education Union, alongside its sister unions, have called for the Education Secretary to get around the negotiation table to settle this dispute for a fully-funded teacher pay increase. Time and again our calls have fallen on stony ground. The Education Secretary refused to re-enter negotiation on the grounds that she and her Department were waiting for the publication of the School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendation on pay.

“This week she has written to us saying: ‘I can confirm that I have received the (STRB ) report and its recommendations. I am aware of speculation published in the Sunday Times, and reported elsewhere in the media, on what these recommendations are. I am sure you will understand that the government will not comment on this speculation whilst it considers its response to the report’. This sentence causes us to worry that the Government is contemplating not implementing the report or not funding it properly.

“Gillian Keegan also says that she will publish the report in her own good time, which by her Department’s recent record will be at least another month. This causes huge uncertainty for schools and is hugely disrespectful to headteachers. None are able to properly plan for next year.

“Unlike her counterparts in Scotland and Wales where the pay disputes have been settled, this Education Secretary has wilfully turned her back on teachers in England. No one wants to take strike action but when faced with an Education Secretary who clearly has no interest in settling this dispute, teachers are left with no option. Gillian Keegan could avoid the strikes in July by publishing the STRB report, entering substantive talks with us and the education unions, ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT to find a settlement on its response to the report, its funding and this year’s pay rise.”

* Source: National Education Union