The two biggest teachers' unions, NUT and NASUWT, have threatened an "historic" co-ordinated strike in the autumn against government "attacks" on jobs, pensions, workload and pay, they announced on Monday.

Both unions, which represent more than 85% of the teaching profession when combined, announced in April their members had voted for further industrial action which would include strikes. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) passed a resolution at its annual conference in Torquay seeking more walkouts amid concerns over public sector pension changes.

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The NUT's decision came hours after the NASUWT agreed to escalate industrial action over pay, pensions, working conditions and job losses for teachers.

NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said since the government came into office, there has been a "relentless and unprecedented assault" on teachers’ pay and conditions of service.

"This assault on teachers is damaging standards of education. Our two unions, which represent the overwhelming majority of the teaching profession, are united in our determination to defend education by protecting teachers."

Education secretary Michael Gove recently riled teaching staff after suggesting teachers should welcome extended school hours. He announced in February: "If you [teachers] love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well."

But a poll by Teacher Support Network in 2010 indicated the widespread resentment at the current workload, with 96% of teaching staff, school leaders and lecturers saying the burden of teaching had a negative effect on their health.

Christine Blower, the NUT's general secretary, said the coalition had continually sought to undermine teachers.

"Occasionally saying we have the best generation of teachers we’ve ever had in no way compensates for the onslaught of attacks and threats to pay, pensions and working conditions.

"We need to stand together to protect our profession and the education system. It is more important than ever that we work together to achieve these goals for all our members."

The two unions said they intended to mount an "unprecedented" joint campaign on these issues and released a statement saying:

"Should the government refuse to take the current opportunity to negotiate sensible arrangements which protect teachers and defend education, then it is our intention to move to escalate industrial action, including jointly coordinated strike action and action short of strike action in the autumn."

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