Trade Unions are betraying children by planning strike and rejecting pay rise of 15.9% says Education Secretary

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Trade Unions are betraying children by planning to strike and are rejecting an effective pay rise of 15.9%, according to the Education Secretary.

Gillian Keegan’s comments came after it was revealed that members of the National Education Union (NEU) overwhelmingly voted to take strike action in February in March over pay and conditions.

She told GB News: “There are so many amazing teachers, brilliant teachers across our country, and you know, our children need them.

“That’s why we want them in school, and it is disappointing that one of the unions has narrowly voted to take strike action.

“But of course, what we need to do now is work with head teachers and others who will still be in schools to try and keep as many of our schools open as possible for as many of our kids as possible.

“It is the largest education union and millions of children will be affected and it beggars’ belief does it not that once again children will be closed out of the classroom, as you say lots of people love their teachers.”

She added: “If you take almost all newly experienced teachers and about 40% of experienced teachers, they’ll be getting up to 15.9% when you put the progression pay in as well as the pay award now in terms of funding it.

“That was a concern from schools and from unions. That pay award which was higher than schools are budgeted was not fully funded.

“So, one of the first things I had to do when I started the role on the 25th of October, was to handle a letter from all the unions saying to find his pay rise going forward and also to make sure schools can manage with the cost-of-living impacts.

“We need an extra £2 billion next year and the year after so that was the challenge they gave me and that is what we delivered in the autumn statement; it is so disappointing because we worked very hard.”

Ms Keegan said the NEU was putting children at risk: “We were one of the very few departments to actually get additional funding to make sure that we didn’t have head teachers having to make those types of choices.

“And of course, now we still have one union who is putting our children’s education and recovery after the pandemic at risk and it’s really, really disappointing.”

Asked if she thought teachers were being unreasonable, she said: “The real problems are not in particular for this sector. They’re across many of the labour market sectors and they’re due to the disruption from the pandemic.

“The other thing we agreed to do, and it was in our manifesto, was to raise the starting salary for newly qualified teachers, usually coming straight from university, to £30,000.

“It’s £28,000 at the moment and we will meet that commitment, it will be £30,000 by September next year when the new pay rise has come in.

“It is something we are really focused on, and you don’t need to strike to get my attention to solve any of these issues.

“Of course, we want to make sure teachers feel supported. We want to do more on workload. We want to do more on flexibility. We want to make their lives more fulfilling.”

Source: GB News

Photo credit of MP Gillian Keegan – UK Government – Crown Copyright

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