03/04/2012 06:04 BST

Schools Will Struggle To Recruit Teachers If Regional Pay Goes Ahead, Claims ATL Union

Schools could struggle to recruit staff if government plans to introduce regional pay for public-sector workers goes ahead, teachers are expected to warn on Tuesday.

Teachers are expected to warn government plans to introduce regional pay for public-sector workers could leave schools struggling to recruit staff and open the door to industrial action.

Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) annual conference in Manchester are due to debate a resolution raising concerns over the government's bid to reduce the role of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) - which currently deals with pay and conditions - and move to regional rates.

They will claim the move will also open the door to industrial action.

Kim Knappett, of Forest Hill School in London and a member of ATL's executive committee, said she believed the proposals would lead to a reduction of pay.

Knappett, who is due to second the motion, said: "I think in some of the regions, what the challenge would be, is if they were to look at what's paid locally, then they would look at public-sector workers and say 'reduce their pay'. That would cause problems in supply and demand in teaching."

She added: "Quite often people do not live and work in the same place, so you're going to have people saying I can't afford to teach there because I'll have less money, because I live there."

Knappett said the union wants the system to be "fair and transparent, we don't want it to be unjust and opaque".

She also warned that there could be regional industrial action over the issue in the future.

"I think if it started to look like it was age or subject related, and it started to be specific areas, we could see action," Knappett said.

The resolution says that ATL should "defend robustly" existing national pay structures for the teaching profession.

In her speech to the conference yesterday, ATL president Alice Robinson said the political landscape has changed "significantly in a very short space of time".

"A government determined to undermine the pay and conditions of the teaching profession through their attempts to introduce regional pay and reduce the autonomy of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB)," she said.

"This, let us be clear, has only one objective - to drive down salaries of teachers in large parts of the country, and ultimately the funding received by schools in those areas.

"Why should a teacher of key stage 2 be paid more or less than a key stage 4 teacher? Why should a teacher in Lancashire with the same experience and progression, receive less than a teacher in Leicestershire?"

Speaking last week, ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said that the union will be giving evidence to the STRB, which has been asked by ministers to look at home regional pay could be introduced.

She said that there is currently a national pay system for teachers with four pay bands - inner London, outer London, the London fringe, which includes parts of the home counties, and the rest of England and Wales.

"We would rather keep the current banding system than have a free-for-all with schools setting pay school by school," Bousted said.