School Children photo: City Journal/CC

School Children photo: City Journal/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Chris Holmes, North London Teacher and NEU Member

For teachers, the government’s announcement that in April 2022 they will lift the public sector pay freeze imposed in November 2020 simply represents too little too late. Not so long ago, at the height of the pandemic, teachers along with many other public sector workers, were acclaimed by Boris Johnson as frontline heroes. However, in real terms, since the financial crisis of 2007 our pay has fallen 8%.

On top of an ever-increasing workload, it is hardly surprising that there has been a chronic shortage in teacher recruitment and retention. No figure has been given yet for what we can expect in April next year, but every worker knows that a pay rise that is less than the rising cost of living is no pay rise at all – and inflation is set to rise to around 5%.

Like all public sector workers, we cannot wait until April to find out how much this cut will be. We need our trade unions to take up this fight immediately. As Socialist Party member Martin Powell-Davies has raised in his NEU Deputy General Secretary campaign, we need to build now for a national strike ballot over pay.

Next year school funding levels will be 1% lower than in 2009-10. Schools budgets will be further squeezed by rising prices. That’s why it is essential that the struggle for a pay rise is linked to a campaign for the funding our schools need.