Teachers in England and Wales vote for strike action over pay
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Teachers going on strike on Wednesday could still be paid due to schools deciding to close without knowing which staff members are walking out. Industrial action has forced 85 percent of schools in England and Wales to stop classes for some or all year groups.
More than 100,000 members of the National Education Union (NEU) are expected to strike in the most disruptive industrial action for more than a decade.
However, union members are not obliged to disclose to their employer whether or not they are striking, meaning schools are closing without knowing if certain staff are going to be in school or not.
This has raised concerns that striking teachers could still be paid as they could claim they are working.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan wrote a letter to all head teachers explaining that staff on strike must not be paid, according to The Telegraph.
It reads: “In all cases, where employees take strike action they are not entitled to be paid for any period during which they are on strike.”
Ms Keegan added that those teachers not striking should go to work and may be asked to cover extra classes, although they could not be forced to.
One teacher posted on social media on Tuesday: “If [head teachers] close the school because teachers won’t say if they’re striking in advance, they’ll get paid.”
A de facto general strike has been declared for Wednesday, with 500,000 union members across different sectors walking out.
Alongside teachers, university staff, civil servants, train and bus drivers are all set to strike, with military personnel and volunteers prepared to step in to assist public services.
On Wednesday and Friday, 15 different train operators will run zero services, as the Aslef and RMT unions on strike.
Just under half of NEU members, 48 percent, voted to strike in England, while in Wales 54 percent voted to strike over pay.
Since industrial action was announced two weeks ago around 40,000 new members have joined the union, who are also eligible to strike if they wish.
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Children with exams upcoming, those with special needs and the children of key workers will be prioritised if there is a limit on which classes can go ahead.
Some schools may operate bigger classes or use volunteers to help keep classes going, although some children may be taught online.
It is not known how online lessons will be monitored, nor what teachers not on strike will be doing if so many children are at home.
Robin Walker, the Tory MP who is the chairman of the education select committee, said: “It’s really important that every effort should be made to keep schools open to as many pupils as possible.
“After all, we’ve been through with the pandemic, the last thing children need is to be out of school for any period of time.”
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