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U.K. Teachers’ Pay Strike Closes Thousands of Schoolsby Open-Publishing - Thursday 24 April 2008
U.K. Teachers’ Pay Strike Closes Thousands of Schools
By Thomas Penny
April 24 (Bloomberg) — Thousands of schools across England and Wales are closed today as the U.K.’s biggest teaching union stages a one-day strike over pay, the first in 21 years.
The National Union of Teachers, which represents almost 200,000 of the 435,000 teachers in England and Wales, called the strike after the government offered a pay rise of 2.45 percent, which the union says is below the rate of inflation.
One in six of the 25,018 schools in England were expected to close, with a further one in six partially closed, The Local Government Association said in an e-mailed statement. It based its estimate on a survey of 91 of the 188 English local education authorities.
About 500 of the 1,826 schools in Wales will be closed, according to a survey by BBC Wales, with a further 400 canceling some classes. There are 8.6 million schoolchildren in England and Wales.
Teachers do not take the decision to strike easily, or lightly, but teachers' patience has been stretched to the limit,'' said Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the NUT, in an e-mailed statement.The Retail Price Index, which features on government Web sites as the figure used for pay bargaining, is currently running at a yearly average of 4.1 percent. The current pay offer of 2.45 percent is well below that and can be seen in no other way than as a pay cut,’’ she said.
Other public sector unions, including police, have complained about the government’s clampdown on pay for public sector workers. Civil servants in employment offices, driving test centers, immigration centers and coastguard control rooms are also on strike today over pay, the Public and Commercial Services Union said in a statement, amounting to a further 100,000 public sector workers. Health workers are unhappy with a pay offer they have been offered by the government, the Financial Times reported today.
Jim Knight, the schools minister, criticized teachers for taking the action and defended the government’s pay offer, which he said was recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body.
I am very disappointed about the expected strike this week, but that is nothing compared to the disappointment of parents, whose children's lessons will be disrupted,'' he said in a statement.Of course teachers must be properly rewarded. But it is because teachers have mortgages too that I know they understand the need for a pay deal that helps deliver low inflation, low interest rates, and a stable economy,’’ Knight said.
Newly qualified teachers start on an annual salary of 20,133 pounds ($39,718) and their wages increase as they gain experience, with the best classroom teachers earning 34,281 pounds a year. More money is available for staff who take on extra responsibilities and teachers in inner London are paid an additional allowance which starts at about 4,000 pounds a year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: April 24, 2008 09:32 EDT