Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 54 Number 8, April 13, 2026 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

NEU Conference

Teachers May Ballot for New Strikes in September over Pay and Funding

The National Education Union (NEU) has decided to hold a formal strike ballot if members reject this summer's pay offer.

Last year, NEU members in England held eight days of strikes. Strikes were also held by those in the ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT. This wave of action ended when teachers in these four unions all accepted the government's 6.5% pay rise for 2023-24. Action in Wales ended with NAHT members accepting a new workload agreement and improved pay offer. In Scotland, last year's dispute concluded with unions accepting pay rises for 2022-23 and 2023-24. In the North of Ireland, all five recognised teachers' unions accepted pay offers for multiple years, resulting in a 10.4% increase in starting salaries.

However, the government is set to announce its final decision on pay for 2024-25 at the end of the summer term, with the Department for Education suggesting in the lead-up a lower pay increase next year due to falling inflation forecasts. All of the issues remain, and education is facing a crisis in recruitment, retention and funding. Morale is very low, with 9% of the teaching profession leaving before retirement last year. Experienced teachers' pay remains 12% lower than in 2010-11.

The NEU, which comprising around 300,000 members in England and Wales, held a preliminary online ballot, with 93.3% of members in England and 87.2% in Wales expressing their support for strike action if teachers do not receive a 2024-25 pay increase above the RPI inflation rate. The union also insists that any pay rise is covered by additional funding, as well as stressing the importance of workload improvements to address recruitment and retention issues.

The overwhelming support demonstrated by the indicative ballot prompted the union's executive to table an emergency motion on pay for at the annual NEU conference held in the first week of April in Bournemouth.

The emergency motion, which was passed by conference delegates, reaffirms that "members are prepared to act industrially", opening up the possibility of a new round of school strikes starting in September. The motion also states that "any formal ballot on pay and funding in coming months will now need to be expanded to include workload". The motion also instructs the union executive to rebuild the School Cuts Coalition, and to work to challenge neo-liberal policy on assessment, the curriculum and accountability.

It is also the case that, under new minimum service levels due to come into force by September, unions will have to ensure schools in England stay open during strike action. The motion also instructs the executive to build the campaign against this anti-democratic legislation.

Commenting after the motion was passed, NEU General Secretary Daniel Kebede said:

"After achieving an overwhelming majority vote in our recent indicative ballot, NEU conference committed to intensify its campaign to win a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise and greater resources for schools and colleges.

"Education is on its knees, struggling to cope with a crisis never seen before in our sector. And the responsibility for this lies squarely at the door of Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan and 14 years of mismanagement and underinvestment by a government that does not care.

"Today, the NEU put this Government, and any new Government that follows it, on notice. We will move to a formal strike ballot in England and Wales if and when necessary to save our schools and colleges.

"This decision is a clear message to Gillian Keegan. If you want to fix the urgent recruitment and retention crisis and support schools and colleges to meet the rising tide of pupil needs, you must meet with the NEU to directly discuss the question of pay and funding.

"Having already clipped the wings of the School Teachers' Review Body by capping the cost envelope for pay at 1-2%, the Government cannot pass the buck.

"In a General Election year, every school leader, every teacher and every parent wants solutions to the crisis facing education. This crisis needs to be resolved. In the General Election campaign, educators and parents will be demanding that politicians commit to significant additional investment in education so that we value, recruit and retain the experienced and expert teachers and support staff we need.

"The Government needs to take action to solve the crisis that is threatening to destroy education. But if it - or any Government that comes after it - does not, we will."

NEU is also currently holding a preliminary ballot of support staff for an above-inflation pay rise and further funding to improve staffing. Voting is open until April 19.

The DfE expressed disappointment over the possibility of another strike ballot. Kebede called on Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to open serious talks to avoid a "collision course" with the union.

(Sources: NEU, BBC News, Schools Week, The Telegraph, The Guardian)

For a statement by the NEU and the full test of the emergency motion, see:
"NEU votes on pay and funding campaign", NEU press release, April 4, 2024

The NEU also passed a motion on Palestine at their annual conference:
"Children should not pay the price of war", NEU press release, April 4, 2024

Link to Full Issue of Workers' Weekly

RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Weekly Online Archive