Over 90% of National Education Union Members who were balloted voted for a series of six days of strikes which start today (1st February 2023) and go on approximately every two weeks until the 15th of March.
The main reason teachers are striking is over poor pay and long working hours, which are the main reasons why teachers are leaving the profession.
Teachers have had a real terms pay cut of 20% since 2010 because their annual pay increases haven’t kept pace with inflation and this year the government has only offered a 5% pay increase when inflation is running at 12%, meaning a 7% real terms pay cut.
And the government is currently residing over a recruitment crisis in teaching. There simply aren’t enough people who want to train to be teachers under the current pay and working conditions.
Understaffed schools mean that the teachers who are working have to soak up the difference, mainly by taking on larger class sizes which contributes to their intense work loads.
Overworked teachers and higher teacher to pupil staff ratios ultimately mean children suffer a poorer quality of education. Teachers are not superhuman after all and they can only do so much, hence the strikes.
It must be remembered, despite the rhetoric of the ultra-wealthy, tax-dodging, massive national-debt creating (Liz Truss) and morally bankrupt Tory party that teachers do not want to strike, they are doing so as a last resort because of Tory failure to manage the economy competently so that there is sufficient money to pay public sector workers a wage which reflects the work they do serving the public.
Relevance to A-level Sociology
The fact that it’s not just teachers striking, but also many other public sector workers demonstrates the harms that 40 years of neoliberal policy have done to the UK economy. There isn’t enough money being raised by taxes to pay decent wages for those working in the health and education sectors.
Striking is a good example of collective mass action, the final resort that the working classes have to demand fairer pay and conditions, and if you want to you can show solidarity with ordinary hard working public sector workers by attending one of the local rallies on one of the strike days.
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Take Action: Support the Strikes
If you want to support striking teachers you can find a list of rallies on strike days on the NEU website.
Remember, solidarity can help with positive social change!