Britain’s Teachers Threatening Summer, Fall Strikes

Teachers unions around Britain are proposing a series of strikes to begin over the summer to protest the education policies of the government. The two unions representing nearly 90% of all teachers in the country – the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT – will be coordinating in the scheduling of a number of one-day walkouts that will take place in the summer months and into the fall term.

The unions are protesting the introduction of merit pay into state schools, according to The Daily Telegraph. The first walkout is scheduled for June 21st and will take place in the schools in the North West of England. Other regions around England and Wales will hold their own protests between September and October, with a number of rallies will be timed to coincide with the strikes.

On top of the strikes, the unions are also participating in a number of “work to rule” actions that has the teachers declining all unpaid commitments including coaching of sports teams and overseeing of extracurricular student clubs.

It was also revealed that a national strike will be staged late in the autumn term just before Christmas. The action threatens to close or partially shut the majority of schools in England and Wales at some point over a six-month period. It will inevitably force millions of parents to take a day off work or arrange emergency child care. The move represents a dramatic escalation of the existing row and between teachers and the Government over controversial reforms to education.

Although prior to 2011 teachers strikes were rare, this will be a second nationwide action in less than three years. The level of outrage of government policies that cut raises, hiked retirement contributions and expanded work hours without additional pay is running high among the unions’ membership.

This round of the conflict was kicked off by the announcement by Education Minister Michael Gove of the new system of performance-linked pay to be put into effect in state schools starting next year.

As part of the existing work-to-rule protest, members are being instructed to refuse to supervise pupils over lunchtime, cover for absent colleagues and invigilate exams as part of a wide-ranging 25-point action plan. Both unions have a already balloted for industrial action, giving them mandate for work-to-rule and strike action. A Department for Education spokesman said less than a quarter of teachers actually backed the current dispute.

The spokesman further added that the ones feeling the consequences of the action the most will be the students and their families who will have to disrupt their lives to make arrangements for their kids when school is out.