NEU teaching union members from Northamptonshire head to annual conference and back motion to delay strike ballot

Northamptonshire NEU members at the union's conference. Image: Submitted.Northamptonshire NEU members at the union's conference. Image: Submitted.
Northamptonshire NEU members at the union's conference. Image: Submitted.

Teaching union leaders from Northamptonshire have backed a move to delay a strike ballot.

Members of the NEU from our county headed to Bournemouth for their annual conference where future industrial action was discussed. The NEU staged a series of strike days in 2023 which was ended when the Government improved its pay offer to 6.5 per cent.

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At conference this week, NEU representatives voted to delay moving to a formal ballot on strike action until it knows what the Government’s pay offer for teachers will be for September.

Delegates from across Northamptonshire joined others at the conference to debate the potential Government’s pay and funding offer for 2024/25.

A motion, passed at the union’s conference in Bournemouth, said if the pay offer is rejected with a ‘convincing turnout’ in the snap poll, then the union should move to a ‘formal ballot’ on strike action overpay and funding.

An amended urgent motion, carried by conference delegates on Thursday, called on the NEU executive to “intensify campaigning and mobilising” of its members ahead of the Government’s pay offer and funding settlement.

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Phill Monk, North Northants NEU District Secretary, said: “This union is built on its workplace representatives; reps are the people who members can turn to in their schools and workplaces. It is imperative that going forward, schools that don’t have reps elect someone to take on the role so they can be represented in any forthcoming action.”

The debate came after an overwhelming majority of NEU teacher members in England and Wales who took part in a preliminary ballot said they would strike to secure a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise and improved funding.

Lauren Ellis, East Northants NEU District Secretary, said “I think the decision to not go forward with the formal ballot was precisely the right one. Our members in North Northants did a fantastic job during the last strike, but the context now is quite different.

"We need time to regroup and refocus our campaign so that we can get the best possible outcome from a future strike action, should we need one following the release of the STRB’s recommendations.”

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NEU staged eight days of strike action in state schools in England last year in a pay dispute that caused school closures right across North Northants.

Last month, the Department for Education (DfE) said in evidence to the STRB that teachers’ pay awards should ‘return to a more sustainable level’ after ‘two unprecedented years’.

Simon Rielly, NEU Branch Secretary for North Northants, said: “Teacher walkouts could be staged in the autumn term across North Northants if a formal ballot on pay and funding is successful.

"The Government needs to take action to solve the crisis that is threatening to destroy education, but if it – or any government that comes after it – does not, the NEU will.

“We need to fix the urgent recruitment and retention crisis and support schools and colleges to meet the rising tide of pupil needs and by making the funding for education a priority.”

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