School strikes could drag on to Christmas as teachers reject pay offer

Schools could now face strike chaos until 2024 after the UK’s largest teaching union agreed to re-ballot members in their bitter pay dispute. Members of the National Education Union will vote next month on further industrial action. It could mean almost 200,000 teachers in England walking out in Christmas and January next year.

Members have already voted for a three-day strike in late June/early July, plus strikes on April 27 and May 2.

The threat of more disruptive action comes after 98 percent of NEU members refused the latest pay offer.

After intensive talks with unions, the Government offered a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year and an average 4.5 percent rise next year. It was slammed as “paltry” at the NEU’s conference.

An urgent motion, passed at the gathering on Tuesday, says it is “vital” the union plans “a programme of escalating strike action, political lobbying and community campaigning (to) bring the maximum weight to bear on the Government”.

On May 18 Union bosses are due to confirm dates of the summer strikes.But delegates voted against an amendment calling for four further strike days during exams in May and June.

Members feared industrial action during such a vital period for pupils would hit support for the union’s pay campaign.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, urged the Government to budge.

He said: “Wales and Scotland have reached settlements. It is about time the Westminster government gets back round the table to resolve this dispute. What has been offered so far is insulting.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said rejection of the pay offer will result in “more disruption for children and less money for teachers”.

Downing Street said the Government has also said it has “no plans” to make an improved offer.

Many schools in England partially or fully shut during strikes by the NEU in February and March.

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