Teachers to strike over pay

On Thursday 24th April, the school is having to close to pupils. This is because the teachers, who are members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), are going on strike for more pay. The senior management team and the teaching assistants, who are not in the NUT, will be in school but are advised by their unions not to cover the striking teachers.

It is obvious with the timing of the strike, just as children are about to start their annual tests and exams, that the union do not care about the education of our children, they are only interested in lining their members’ pockets and causing the maximum disruption. The strike was called following a ballot of members, in which a majority of those who voted agreed with the strike, however this majority was less than one quarter of NUT members, so it is apparent most teachers didn’t want to strike.

To put this in perspective, the average earnings for a full time male employee was £498 a week (£25,896 per annum) in April 2007 (National Statistics Online – Earnings) and £394 (£20,480) for a full time female employee. From the NUT website you can find the teachers payscales and find the following:

A qualified teacher will start on point 1 on the main pay scale which at September 2007 is £20,133, the following year they will under normal performance conditions progress to point 2 which is proposed to be £22,259, the following year point 3 at £24,601, the following year point 4 at £27,103, the following year point 5 at £29,239(+next pay rise) and the following year £31,551(+the next 2 pay rises).

So, to recap, after 4 years of teaching, a qualified teacher is already earning above the national average, with 2 more years of points gain on the main pay scale and a guaranteed rise each year.

When you look around an average school staff car park, you will see an abundance of new cars, so I must be missing something. What makes teachers think that they are the only people who work hard for a living and are hard done by? Other people also work hard to provide the money through our taxes to pay for teachers guaranteed rises. Many people in the private sector go for years with below inflation or no pay rises, with increasing responsibilities (without bonuses for taking them on). We are the ones who have to find additional childcare costs or use our holiday time to look after our children who should be in school (of course we don’t have as much holiday time to start with).

Am I bitter, yes of course I am. It’s impossible not to to be when the disruption this causes has such a personal impact. Do teachers work hard, again yes, I don’t dispute that. Do they work efficiently, I’m not so certain; from observation, time management that you would see at all levels in a private company seems to have bypassed many teachers, increasing their levels of stress as they struggle to manage their day.

The big question is what do the unions expect to achieve with this strike? Blackmail the government into giving them their demanded 10% pay rise by disrupting our children’s education just as they prepare to take exams? Gain public support by causing millions of parents financial cost to look after their children while earning more than many of them?

I’d love to work for a company where each year’s pay rise was guaranteed, but I work in the real world.

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