Ballot could see up to 85% of teachers in England and Wales called out over pay and performance management (pictured: striking teachers in London on M28)

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The largest UK teaching unions, NASUWT and NUT are to ballot hundreds of thousands of teachers in a vote which could trigger national strike action in tens of thousands of schools in the autumn.

(Pictured: NUT members on strike in London, March 28th 2012)

It could mean as many as 85% of teachers in England and Wales could take part in any industrial action.

The general secretaries of the two unions, Christ Keates (NASUWT) and Christine Blower (NUT) have issued a joint statement saying they have “written to the Secretary of State calling for urgent discussions about the concerns of the teaching profession. We want to talk and we are willing to meet at any time. However, should the Government refuse to listen, then it is our intention to ask for your support for joint industrial action by the NASUWT and NUT.”

The NUT is calling for members to vote ‘yes’ both for strike action and action short of strike in the autumn term.

The campaign is expected to bring the two unions together against the government on key policies for the Education Secretary, Michael Gove – regional pay, performance management and pensions.

NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said: “Since the Government came into office, there has been a relentless and unprecedented assault on teachers’ pay and conditions of service.

“This assault on teachers is damaging standards of education.

“Our two unions, which represent the overwhelming majority of the teaching profession, are united in our determination to defend education by protecting teachers.”

(Pictured: NASUWT/NUT joint declaration)

NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said: “Since coming to power the Government has sought to undermine teachers.

“Occasionally saying we have the best generation of teachers we’ve ever had in no way compensates for the onslaught of attacks and threats to pay, pensions and working conditions.

“We need to stand together to protect our profession and the education system. It is more important than ever that we work together to achieve these goals for all our members.”

Earlier this month, NASUWT published a detailed report on the possible impact of the imposition of regional pay in schools in England, which found that varying pay in different regions would ‘recreate the recruitment and retention crisis similar to that which paralysed education in the 1990s.’

Critics say there is no evidence that zonal pay has operated successfully elsewhere either in the private or public sector.

Indeed, studies suggest it would be too complicated to administer and would neither address teachers shortages nor improve standards.

The NUT took selective strike action on pensions in March, but NASUWT members have not taken part in national strike action since November 30th 2011.

Bringing both unions together in opposition to central planks of Coalition education policy has been regarded as the ‘big prize’ for some in the two unions, however it also makes it highly unlikely that the NUT will take part in any further industrial action over pensions until the autumn.


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