British Queen celebrates


Daniel Kebede, the general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), has indicated the possibility of teachers in England and Wales going on strike again as early as September.

This announcement follows an indicative ballot where nearly 150,000 teachers voted for industrial action, revealing a sense of "growing frustration" within the profession as the country approaches a general election.

Kebede, speaking before a debate on pay at the NEU's annual conference in Bournemouth, emphasized the need for the education secretary, Gillian Keegan, to engage deeply to prevent escalating tensions. He criticized the government's approach, accusing it of "burning down the house" as it transitions out of power.

The preliminary ballot results, disclosed to delegates during a private session, showed strong support for strike action, with 90.3% of voting members in England backing the move. Although the conference's focus is on campaigning for a fully funded above-inflation pay rise, the possibility of a formal strike ballot remains open.

Last year, the NEU conducted a series of strikes that resulted in significant disruptions, leading to an improved pay offer of 6.5% from the government. This year's motion at the conference underscores a warning to both Conservatives and Labour, signaling members' readiness to take industrial action if their demands are not met.

While the union leadership has the authority to call for a formal strike ballot later, the priority remains winning on the issue of pay and funding. Kebede stressed the importance of sustained campaigning alongside potential industrial action to achieve their objectives.

Regarding the potential turnout in a formal ballot, Kebede acknowledged the challenges posed by the government's anti-democratic threshold but highlighted the growing frustration among teachers. He suggested September as a potential timeframe for future strikes if a decision is made to proceed with a formal ballot.

The Department for Education urged unions to engage with the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) before considering strikes, emphasizing the disruptive impact of further industrial action on pupils. Despite the ongoing budget pressures, the Welsh government affirmed its commitment to engaging with NEU Cymru and addressing their concerns within the context of social partnership. Photo by Lewis Clarke, Wikimedia commons.