TEACHERS across Wearside are gearing up for strike action this year.
The two biggest teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), and the, National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), have jointly announced the rolling programme of action starting with a strike by teachers in the North West of England on June 27.
More strikes are set to follow in the autumn term, with the stage set for a national strike before Christmas.
Sarah Lake, Sunderland branch secretary of the NUT, said: “The NUT and NASUWT have been forced to call for a rolling programme of strike action along with rallies and a national one day strike in the autumn.
“This is not a decision taken lightly as teachers want to be in school teaching pupils. However, with the Government intent on raising the retirement age of teachers to 68 and beginning an attack on the national pay structures for teachers we have been forced into a corner.
“The reason for the strike action beginning late in the summer term is to give the Government more time to back down and just as importantly to ensure that summer exams are not affected.”
Ms Lake said: “In Sunderland where birth rates are not rising in line with national rates there is a concern that schools might offer teachers jobs on a lower salary in order to save money.”
The strike move announced by unions is an escalation of a continuing dispute with the Government over changes to the teacher pension scheme and the Government’s decision to move to performance-relate pay.
NASUWT general secretary, Chris Keates, said: “The time has come for the Secretary of State to listen to the concerns of teachers and school leaders. He has recklessly pursued a relentless attack on the profession and teachers’ patience has been exhausted.”
Both unions have already been taking part in industrial action, short of strikes, but NUT general secretary Christine Blower insisted that they have had no engagement from Education Secretary, Michael Gove over the dispute.
She said: “We have decided we must make an announcement that we will move to strike action in a bid to get the Secretary of State to listen seriously, and to seek to achieve a resolution in this dispute.”