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Teachers in England reject pay offer, announce further strikes

file photo: teachers attend a march during strike action in a dispute over pay, in london
File photo: Teachers attend a march during strike action in a dispute over pay, in London, Britain March 15, 2023. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

Teachers in England have overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer from the British government aimed at ending a series of disruptive strikes, their trade union said on Monday, announcing two further days of walkouts.

The National Education Union, Britain’s largest education union, said 98% of teachers who voted in the ballot followed its advice to reject the offer of a one-off payment this year of 1,000 pounds and an average pay rise of 4.5% in the next financial year.

“This resounding rejection of the government’s offer should leave (education minister) Gillian Keegan in no doubt that she will need to come back to the negotiating table with a much better proposal,” NEU joint General Secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of teachers across Britain have taken strike action this year in demand of an above-inflation pay award, leaving classrooms empty and heaping pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to help resolve the dispute.

The union said teachers would take two further days of strike action, on April 27 and May 2.

“It is extremely disappointing that the NEU have called more strike action,” Keegan said in a statement.

She also signalled the government did not intend to negotiate further: “Pay will now be decided by the independent pay review body which will recommend pay rises for next year.”

The government has argued that higher pay rises would only worsen inflation.

Teachers in Wales have ended their strike action after voting to accept a pay offer comprising an additional 3% pay award for 2022/23 alongside a 1.5% one-off payment, and a government-funded 5% rise for the following year.

Scotland’s largest teaching union has also accepted a pay deal to end long-running strikes, which it said would amount to a 14.6% increase in pay for most teachers by January 2024.

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