Strike warning from teachers' union
TEACHERS in Suffolk and Essex may strike to protect jobs as the school funding crisis deepens, union chiefs have warned.The National Union of Teachers has vowed to resort to nationwide industrial action, including strikes, if NUT members were made redundant as a result of funding difficulties.
TEACHERS in Suffolk and Essex may strike to protect jobs as the school funding crisis deepens, union chiefs have warned.
The National Union of Teachers has vowed to resort to nationwide industrial action, including strikes, if NUT members were made redundant as a result of funding difficulties.
It also demanded an immediate Government cash injection of £500m for education as it emerged some schools faced deficits of up to £750,000.
Many schools in Suffolk are already predicting cutbacks on support staff and equipment because of the poor budget settlement for the next year – and fear the crisis will get worse.
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John Dixon, regional secretary of the NUT, based in Newmarket, said: "There are very significant concerns across the eastern region regarding potential redundancies.
"Any increases in workloads will clearly be met with opposition. Strike action would not be out of the question."
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He added: "Suffolk has lost out quite considerably on the amount of funding coming through to schools. A lot of schools are having to look at cutting staff at the very time that the Government is talking about increasing staffing levels to address workload problems."
Speaking at the NUT's annual conference in Harrogate, the union's general secretary Doug McAvoy said life was "particularly tough" for Suffolk schools.
He added: "Suffolk is an authority which has a very low estimate – it is not one of the highest funded authorities.
"Schools simply don't have enough money to cover their rising costs, for National Insurance and teachers' pensions, paying for performance related pay and new support staff."
Mr McAvoy said the union would monitor problems arising as school budgets are set over the summer and would work with local authorities in a bid to prevent redundancies.
He warned: "If we have to take industrial action then that is what we will do but we will try to solve the problems first."
The Government has promised a 6.5% budget increase to help ease the pressure on schools nationally.
However, Martin Goold, Suffolk NUT secretary, claimed they needed more than 9% to maintain the status quo – accounted for by a 5.1% increase in pensions, 2.9% on basic pay and 1% on national insurance.
But a Department for Education and Skills spokesman insisted: "The evidence we are seeing from LEAs suggest that there is still a very significant amount of money in the system that they have yet to allocate to schools.
"Industrial action will only damage and disrupt children's education and undermine the status of teachers."