UNION leaders and politicians are being warned that parents are bemused that their children’s’ education is being “caught up in the crossfire” of an industrial dispute which shows no signs of being resolved.
The National Union of Teachers ( NUT) staged another national strike yesterday causing disruption at more than 750 schools in Yorkshire.
It is in dispute with the Department for Education over pay and pension reforms and what the union sees as excessive workload.
There were 787 schools shut or partially closed across the region yesterday and crowds of teachers gathered for rallies in Bradford, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield.
General secretary Christine Blower warned that more strikes could be called if there is no movement in talks between the Government and unions.
The DfE said that there was a low level of support for the strike with around one in eight schools in England forced to fully close.
Chris McGovern the chairman of the Campaign for Real Education which calls for greater parental choice said: “Parents will be bemused about why their children are caught up in the crossfire. The NUT does not only have to win over parents about the action it is taking, it has to win over its own members. Its original mandate was based on a 40 per cent turn out at a ballot.”
Mr McGovern said that while he agreed with the union’s concerns over excessive workload he believed continual strikes would not achieve anything and would not be supported by the public.
Ian Murch, the NUT’s national treasurer, who attended a rally said that the support of parents would be important as more strike action was likely.
He said that there was a strong belief among NUT members that they were doing the right thing but said there was disappointment that the NASUWT had not taken part in yesterday’s strike. The two unions had joined forces for several strikes last year.
Leeds NUT branch official Richard Raftery said: “We have had a lot of support from parents - they do not want their children being taught by staff who are exhausted. Two out of five newly qualified teachers are leaving the profession within five years. That is something the DfE should take note of.” A DfE spokesman said: “Parents will struggle to understand why the NUT is striking over the Government’s measures to let heads pay good teachers more. They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly. Despite this and without the support of any of the other six unions engaged in the talks - the NUT has taken industrial action.”