East Sussex teachers set to strike over pay

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East Sussex teachers are set to strike next week.

Industrial action has been called at Priory School Lewes, Uckfield Community Technology College, St Catherine’s College Eastbourne, Peacehaven Community School and Seaford Head School on Tuesday April 24 and Thursday May 3.

Seaford Primary school was also to strike but came to an agreement with management and the action has been called off.

A spokesperson for The National Education Union –an amalgamation of the NUT and the ATL – said, “The dispute is over the failure of East Sussex to ask schools that the newer and lower paid teachers on get a 2 per cent pay rise as recommended by the National School Teachers’ Pay Review Body.

“The pay rise has been paid in most areas of the Country including directly next door in Brighton and Hove.

“Schools can individually choose the pay the small about of money to give the appropriate pay rise and the union is asking head teachers to agree this at the same time as pushing for the county to change policy as a whole.”

Phil Clarke, secretary of the Lewes Eastbourne and Wealden National Education Union said, “I can see no good argument why teachers should be paid less in East Sussex than our colleagues in most of the rest of the country.

“For example our members in Peacehaven are being paid less than those in Brighton schools a short walk away. This will only discourage teachers from working in East Sussex schools.

“In the south east unlike London we get no extra money and house prices in our county are three times what they are in some northern areas where the proper pay rates are in place.”

Mr Clarke continued, “School funding has been seriously cut by this government and we have been campaigning for this to be reversed.

“However the amounts needed to pay for this rise for main scale teachers is very low, an average of £1700 per school in total for the whole year. Schools can afford to pay this.

“Many teachers who have voted to take action have done so even though they are not on the main pay scale and won’t see any raise in pay. They can see it is not in the interests of pupils or colleagues for East Sussex to be known as a low paying area for teachers.

“Not to pay the national scales this year and to fail to resolve this so we can call off the strikes is astonishing given the small costs involved.”

The union says it expects the schools involved to be closed on the strike days. The union also says it has been approached by a growing number of additions schools asking to also take part in strike ballots over this issue and future action, if this is not resolved, is likely to include more schools.

Paul McLaughlin, South East Regional Secretary said, “Teachers in East Sussex are being disadvantaged by a policy that denies teachers recommended national rates. At a time when recruiting and retaining teachers is proving difficult this is a false economy.

“Members have overwhelmingly supported the campaign. The sums involved to fix this are small, it would be ridiculous if members were forced to take action, however members are determined and will take action if necessary.”

The picket line will be from 7.30am at the named schools.