Faced by four teaching unions staging co-ordinated strike action from September, the Government has provided funding for an improved pay offer
Since February, Croydon’s teachers have taken eight days of strike action, affecting 80per cent of schools in the borough.
But now they have a decision to take over whether to continue striking into the autumn term, or to accept the latest government pay offer of a 6.5per cent rise.
Officials at the National Education Union have made a strong recommendation for members to accept the pay offer.
During the dispute, Croydon NEU has staged a series of public demonstrations, including delivering a petition to the Croydon Conservative headquarters in Purley for passing on to Tory minister Chris Philp, and hundreds of teachers marching to the Town Hall.
The teachers have been demanding an above-inflation pay rise, but also for the government to provide the funding to meet any pay increase and to secure higher overall spending for the benefit of all schools.
After sustained pressure from several public sector unions, last week the Tory Government announced an improved offer, which came after reports from the “independent” pay bodies were finally released by Downing Street.
The School Teachers Review Body had made the conclusion weeks ago that the 4.5per cent increase previously offered was inadequate and recommended that it should be increased by 2per cent. Doctors, police officers and other public sector workers had reviews making similar recommendations.
With the prospect of a united campaign by all four teacher unions for strike action in the new school year, starting in September, the government’s revised offer has come at a key time.
In Croydon and elsewhere in England, the teaching unions had previously opened a reballot of members over further strikes.
Union members in Croydon are now being surveyed on whether to accept the new offer. The NEU National Executive has taken a decision to recommend acceptance of the offer as “the best achievable through negotiation”.
If accepted by the members, this means there will be no further strike action for the immediate future.
As a Croydon NEU official told Inside Croydon, “Under the Tory Government, school funding has fallen and budgets have been overstretched. Class sizes have increased, the number of teachers and support staff continues to fall and a significant number of school buildings have fallen into disrepair.
“There is much anger within the profession that provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Early Years, Alternative Provision and Post-16 education remains inadequate.
“The NEU campaign has been to address these inadequacies. It has not been just on pay. It remains to be seen whether or not members chose to temporarily suspend their campaign and follow the advice of the leadership or to press ahead with their wider demands for sustained improvements.”
The NEU’s members’ ballot opened yesterday, and runs until July 28.
Croydon NEU has recommended that members locally choose a “ceasefire” and accept the fully funded 6.5per cent “for now”, as one official put it.
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