The UK’s biggest teacher union has warned the government it could go on strike if it is not granted an “inflation-plus” pay rise.
In a letter to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, the National Education Union (NEU) said teacher pay had fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010.
“The combination of unsustainable hours, the work intensity during those hours and ever-falling pay levels are damaging our schools and the young people we are educating,” the union’s joint general secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said.
“You must respond to the new economic reality of double-digit inflation and the threat this poses to teacher living standards.
“We call on you to commit to an inflation-plus increase for all teachers.”
Bousted and Courtney said if “sufficient action” was not taken by the autumn term, it would ballot its members on strike action.
“We will be strongly encouraging them to vote yes. We can no longer stand by while you run both education and educators into the ground,” they added.
“A clear and unambiguous signal that educators are valued, with undifferentiated inflation-plus pay increases for all teachers, is urgently needed.”
It comes as the rate of inflation rose again in May, remaining at 40-year highs and deepening the squeeze felt by households across the UK.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) inflation rose from 9% in April to 9.1%.
The government is already battling strikes by rail unions over jobs, pay and conditions.
Dominic Raab, the deputy PM, said the government “can’t allow” the unions to “win” the argument of pay rises.
Speaking to Sky News he said there had to be “pay restraint” in the public sector to stop inflation spiralling higher.
“That will only undermine the pay packages of workers, particularly the most vulnerable workers, for a longer period of time,” he said.
“We can’t allow, I’m afraid, the unions, in this very militant way they have proceeded, to win this argument.”