Teachers in London have voted overwhelmingly to strike on Thursday of next week over pay. Over 40,000 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in London and neighbouring areas of the Home Counties voted by nine to one to strike in a ballot declared on Tuesday of this week.
The 86 percent yes vote is a sign of the strength of feeling in schools. The action is about winning more money for education and tackling the shortage of teachers. Teaching vacancies have doubled over the last year, according to figures sneaked out by the government.
The crisis over recruiting and retaining teachers is particularly sharp in London. That is due to a stressful rising workload, and pay awards that have not kept pace with the cost of living in the south east of England.
New Labour education secretary Estelle Morris has refused to increase substantially the allowances for teachers in London, and attacked teachers for voting to strike.
NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy hit back on Tuesday, saying, 'Our schools and our pupils cannot wait. 'They are suffering now the turmoil that comes from high teacher turnover.'
New Labour's performance related pay scheme has made matters worse by forcing teachers to compete against one another for a rationed amount of money. It is so damaging that headteachers' organisations are considering a vote to boycott the scheme.
The London teachers' vote is part of a deepening mood over pay. NUT union members are looking to get support from members of other teachers' unions and other workers in schools on the strike day. A march and rally, assembling at 10am at Lincoln's Inn Fields, is also planned.