Teachers in England and Wales have set to announce strike action later on Monday, joining nurses, rail workers and others in staging industrial action in a further headache for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government.
The result of a ballot among teachers belonging to the National Education Union (NEU) is due at 1700 GMT on Monday. The Sunday Times cited union sources as saying members in England and Wales had voted to back strikes beginning in February.
Sunak is coming under increasing pressure to try to resolve pay disputes with hundreds of thousands of workers following months of strikes which have caused widespread disruption.
With inflation running at more than 10%, workers from multiple sectors are demanding higher wages.
The NEU said the government had offered its members a 5% pay rise which it says equates to a pay cut due to spiralling prices. Low pay for teachers has also pushed many to leave the profession, the union said.
The government has said it cannot afford big wage rises and warned that any big boost to salaries will exacerbate the country’s inflation problem.
Last week, a strike ballot by a different teachers’ union in England fell short of the required turnout threshold, but reports suggest strikes by the NEU, the UK’s largest education union in the UK with around 500,000 members, will go ahead.
Teachers in Scotland have already held strikes which have caused the closure of many schools. On Monday they began a rolling 16-day walkout which will impact two local authorities each day.
A decision by teachers to strike would be “regrettable” transport minister Mark Harper said on Sunday.
While there are hopes that a new offer for rail workers could end walkouts in that sector, nursing representatives have warned their strikes could intensify.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing will strike on Wednesday and Thursday, and the union has warned their next round of strikes could be more severe, with double the number of nurses in England to walk out in February unless a resolution is found.