Teachers should 'put their family first' in strike vote, union boss says

A Suffolk teaching union boss said teachers should "put their family first" when they vote on strike action this autumn.  

A Suffolk teaching union boss said teachers should "put their family first" when they vote on strike action this autumn. - Credit: PA

Teachers must think about what is best for their families as well as pupils when they vote on strike action, a Suffolk union boss has said.

As the second day of rail strikes hit the county, the National Education Union (NEU) has said it will consult its members in the autumn, “strongly encouraging them” to back industrial action if the Government does not respond to its concerns in the next few months.

Pay cuts and high workload are among the major gripes the trade union has raised.

Graham White, from the Suffolk NEU

Graham White, from the Suffolk NEU - Credit: ANDY ABBOTT

Graham White, from the Suffolk branch of the NEU, said: "No teacher takes strike action lightly, but they have a responsibility for their own families as well as their pupils.

"And if their own families are suffering through the cost-of-living crisis because teachers are not being paid enough, then staff have to put their family first and that, unfortunately, means that they may well have to take strike action."

It comes as the Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has called any such move “unforgiveable”.

Mr Zahawi wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Young people have suffered more disruption than any generation that’s gone before them and to compound that now, as recovery is in full swing and families are thinking about their next big step following school or college, would be unforgivable and unfair.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi - Credit: PA

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But Mr White said teachers had also suffered during the pandemic.

He said: "Just because throughout the Covid lockdowns schools were not always fully open, it doesn't mean staff weren't fully working.

"In many ways, they were probably doing more work."

Mr White added that he believed a lack of government funding for education was more harmful to pupils than any teachers' strike could be.

He said: "If the government really funded education properly, then we would have much better resourcing for education.

"And it would also mean that every pupil got the very best education. Unfortunately, because of a lack of funding, some of the more vulnerable pupils don't get as much help that they need."