UK: National Union of Teachers Votes to Approve Strike Action

Members of the National Union of Teachers have voted to join in with NASUWT to plan an industrial action this fall, the Daily Telegraph reports. Late last week, NUT membership passed the latest ballot calling for a walkout from classrooms across England and Wales in protest over working conditions, salary issues and new regulations that will increase teachers' pension contributions.

The NASUWT approved their own strike plans earlier this year. Nearly 90% of all teachers are represented by one of the two unions. As an alternative to a walkout, the members also voted to approve a work-to-rule action which will have them continue teaching, but refuse any kind of attendant responsibilities such as paperwork, staff meeting attendance and supervision of extracurricular activities or clubs.

According to NUT figures, 82.5 per cent of members who voted backed strike action while a further 91.6 per cent supported "action short of a strike".

But the decision is bound to fuel calls for further curbs on union activities after it emerged that just 27 per cent of the NUT's 229,000 members took part in the ballot.

The unions will be jointly releasing their strike plans later, but it is expected that those will comprise of several one-day strikes between the months of September and December. It is expected that the walkouts will not only have an impact on the students, throwing them behind in their studies, but also on working parents who will be forced to either take time off work or seek out alternative childcare.

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: "Teachers are being undermined by a Government whose almost daily criticisms and erosion of working conditions and pay, coming on top of previous attacks on pensions, are unacceptable. This negative approach to the profession has to stop."

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, congratulated the NUT on it's "positive ballot result".

"This result is the reflection of two years of sustained assault from the Government which has been deeply damaging to teacher morale, as well as to recruitment and retention," she said.

The spokesman for the Department of Education said that the campaign by a small minority of NUT membership could serve to tarnish the reputation of all members of the teaching profession. The Department also stated that questions are already being raised about the motives behind the union's actions in light of the fact that decisions about issues like salary and pensions haven't yet been settled.

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