Strike by National Union of Teachers

On 2 April, following a ballot of its members, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) decided to take direct action over the latest pay award announced for teachers. Its members voted 3:1 in favour of a one day strike. The strike on Thursday on 24th April 2008 is in protest at the government's announcement of a 2.45% pay rise this year (well below the inflation rate of 4.1%), followed by 2.3% in 2009 and 2010. The last national teachers' strike over salaries was in 1987 when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

Early in April, Steve Sinnott, then General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Europe's largest teaching union commented: 'Young teachers need to be treated fairly. Paying them at levels which are not competitive with those of other graduate professions and making them unable to take even their first step on the housing ladder will damage recruitment. The Government needs to think again and ensure that salaries at least keep pace in line with inflation and that there is recognition of the continuing workload pressures on teachers.' (NUT website, 1 April 2008)

Bill Cockburn, chairman of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) since 2002 said that teachers risked losing the 'great respect' they had earned in recent years. The strike threatens to close thousands of schools across England and Wales. Few secondary schools are expected to close, but significant numbers of primary schools, especially smaller ones, may be affected. (The Times, 19 April 2008)

Thousands of NUT members are expected to take part in 47 rallies around the country. They will be joined by some of the 27,500 lecturers from the University and College Union who have balloted to strike on the same day. 100,000 civil servants from the Public and Commercial Services Union will also be striking over pay in 10 government departments, including the Home Office and the DVLA. (Times Education Supplement, 18 April 2008)

Look at The times 100 case study on another union – UNISON – Britain's biggest trade union. Its 1.3 million members work in public services. Everyone in the country is touched by public services, so it is vital that any dispute is solved quickly. Good communication helps this. Groups in dispute need to understand each other.


The National Union of Teachers – Teachers' Pay, 1 April 2008

TES – Striking teachers risk losing 'great respect', says pay body chief, 18 April 2008

The Times Online – Teachers 'will lose respect of parents with strke over pay' 19 April 2008

The Times 100 Case Studies – UNISON, Using effective communications

Potential Study Questions:

  • What are the benefits to employees of being a member of a union?
  • Discuss the importance to large national companies of good industrial relations
  • What is the difference between the CPI (Consumer Price Index) and the RPI (Retail Price Index), (either of which may be used in setting pay awards)?