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Teachers vote for strike action during exam time
OXFORDSHIRE delegates of the National Union for Teachers voted to stage another strike during exam time if the row with the Government over pay, pensions and conditions continues.
All seven delegates from Oxfordshire who attended the NUT’s national conference in Brighton over the Easter weekend voted in favour of further industrial action in the week commencing Monday, June 23.
The local delegates comprised teachers and a retired colleague from Oxford, Bicester and Didcot. About 1,000 delegates attended the conference.
However, NUT Oxfordshire secretary and a member of the union’s national executive Gawain Little hoped the threat of a third strike since October would bring Education Secretary Michael Gove to the table over teachers’ conditions and Government policy.
He said: “The Oxfordshire delegation supported that response, to have further action.
“There has to be an opportunity to get the Education Secretary to talk.
“None of us want further industrial action.”
Mr Little said the NUT had not yet decided how many strike days it would call for in June, and that it would “minimise the disruption on students and parents”.
A NUT press officer conceded there would be “a couple” of exams that week but said the union would exempt any members involved with exams.
Mr Little said the county’s delegates were not in favour of a more hardline proposal, for teachers to strike for two days in June and an additional four days in the autumn term.
A June strike would be the third since last October in the union’s dispute with the government over pay, workloads and pensions. In March, 23 schools in Oxfordshire were closed, a further 75 partially closed, and 195 stayed open as the NUT called a second strike and up to 300 teachers marched in Oxford to demonstrate.
Mr Little said the NUT would act alone on industrial action even if the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) did not also strike.
The NASUWT said during its national conference over the weekend: “NASUWT members remain committed to maintaining and, if necessary, escalating the current industrial action campaign, including moving to further strike action.”
The NASUWT’s new president, Banbury Academy teacher Geoff Branner, said prior to the conference that his union did not join the NUT’s strike action last month “because we felt the Government had begun to engage in talks and we thought it would be incorrect to take industrial action”.
Oxfordshire County Council education head Melinda Tilley said: “It’s a shame if both sides don’t negotiate further. We would ask people to watch our website for what schools would be closed.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “Ministers have met frequently with the NUT and other unions and will continue to do so. Further strike action will only disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.”
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