Teachers due to ballot over industrial action

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PUPILS across Wearside could face fresh disruption as the biggest teachers’ union goes to the ballot boxes.

The National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) has released a timetable for a strike ballot over pensions, pay, working conditions and jobs.

Half the teaching staff in Sunderland are members of the union, and its Wearside official said any industrial action would have a significant effect on city schools.

The union says employers will receive notice of the NASUWT’s intention to ballot by October 20 and the ballot will be open from November 4 to 17, with members asked to vote on industrial action short of a strike as well as for a walkout.

The result will be in time for union officials to call a strike on the TUC’s day of action on November 30, which could involve millions of workers ranging from teachers and civil servants to refuse collectors and school dinner ladies.

Mike Johnson, Sunderland federation secretary of the union, said: “I think the ballot will get strong support from members in Sunderland, but it will be up to the membership.”

He said any vote for industrial action would not be taken lightly by members because they don’t want to disrupt the lives of the children and parents they work to support.

But he said that as well as anger over pension reforms, the union also wants to tackle issues including redundancies, new teachers leaving university unable to get jobs and the amount of academies being opened, which it is against because it says they take education out of democratic control and put it in the hands of individuals.

However, the Government insists the changes it is making are about improving education and that industrial action could harm pupils’ learning, inconvenience parents and damage teachers’ professional reputation.