Teachers' Strike a 'Genuine Possibility' in Row over Pay Offer; April Date Set for Strike If Teachers Vote for Action

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Byline: Abbie Wightwick Education Editor

UNION leaders yesterday revealed the date on which teachers in Wales could take their first strike action in a generation over the issue of pay.

If the 16,500 NUT Cymru members being balloted on the issue agree to take action they will walk out of classrooms on April 24, at the start of the GCSE exam season.

David Evans, secretary of NUT Cymru characterised the mood among teachers at the government's below-inflation 2.3% pay offer as "angry".

Teachers have not taken strike action on pay for more than 20 years in Wales.

Mr Evans predicted a strike was likely but pledged that no exams would be affected.

Although some practical and oral examinations take place as early as March, no GCSEs are scheduled for that day according to exam boards. But if this changes teachers involved will not be asked to walk out, Mr Evans pledged.

"The ballot has opened and it will close on March 31", he said.

"There is a genuine possibility of a strike. We would not be balloting members if we did not think so. They are pretty angry.

"There are no plans now for additional strike days but there is the option to review that. This is an exercise in demonstrating that teachers have had enough."

He said teachers have been losing the equivalent of pounds 2 per day over the years, which had built up to a "significant amount" as a result of a series of below-inflation pay rises.

Margaret Morrissey, spokesperson for the Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations in England and Wales said her organisation believed most parents would support a strike if it did not affect their children's education.

However, Mrs Morrissey - who first took her post with the confederation during the lengthy teachers' strike of 1984 - said the NUT Cymru must ensure it communicates well with parents.

"It is really sad in this day and age that teachers feel this is what they need to do," she said.

"The government should sit down and work it out with them and provide a proper pay structure.

"A lot of parents will support them but once, and if, the action affects education then that support might flow away. …