Teacher Strikes: What’s going on?

By arayerevanian 3rd February 2023

Many groups of workers have been striking over the last few months, including teachers. Here’s everything you need to know about strike action in the UK.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 1: The protest heads through Piccadilly as tens of thousands of striking teachers and their supporters march in central London on February 1, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Public sector union members in education, the civil service and the Railways are taking part in strike action across the UK today. Teachers are walking out for the first time over pay and conditions joining 100,000 civil servants who are also seeking a pay rise. ASLEF and RMT train drivers are continuing a long-running strike and will also walk out on Friday. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

Striking teachers and supporters march through Piccadilly, London on Feb 1, 2023 (Guy Smallman / Contributor - Getty Images)

What is a strike?

A strike is when a group of workers choose to protest by refusing to do their job for a period of time. Strikes can happen because of issues around pay or working conditions. Problems around working conditions could involve lots of things: giving staff more training or what they feel is a fair amount of work; making a workplace safer and friendlier, or even basic rights like allowing staff to have regular toilet breaks and access to drinking water.

A lot of the current strikes are mostly about pay because inflation (the rate of prices going up) has increased faster than people’s wages, meaning they end up being worse off than before.

Strikes cause a lot of disruption for people, although that’s kind of the point, because strikes aim to put pressure on companies and the Government to come to an agreement with workers to end the strike. People don’t get paid while they’re on strike, so for many, it’s a last resort and a sign that things have become really bad.

Who’s striking?

Lots of people have been on strike or plan to strike in the UK. They include nurses, ambulance staff, railway workers, Royal Mail workers, university staff and, teachers.

Why are teachers striking?

Teachers and support staff have been striking in England, Scotland and Wales. The main reason for striking is because of pay, but as Mary van den Heuvel from the National Education Union says, “there are a lot of issues around workloads” and “the level of change happening in our schools”.
It’s not just teachers and support staff either – the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has said that, even though they’re not striking yet, head teachers are unhappy too.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 1: The protest heads through Piccadilly as tens of thousands of striking teachers and their supporters march in central London on February 1, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Public sector union members in education, the civil service and the Railways are taking part in strike action across the UK today. Teachers are walking out for the first time over pay and conditions joining 100,000 civil servants who are also seeking a pay rise. ASLEF and RMT train drivers are continuing a long-running strike and will also walk out on Friday. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

Striking teachers and supporters march through Piccadilly, London on Feb 1, 2023 (Guy Smallman / Contributor - Getty Images)

What’s a union?

A union is a group that represents people who work in certain jobs. Unions talk to employers about pay, working hours and conditions. If there are problems that can’t be settled, a union can ask its members if they want to strike. It’s only teachers who are in a union that have decided to strike.

When are teachers striking?

At the time of First News going to press, teachers in England and Wales were due to strike on 15 and 16 March, after their first day of strike action on Wednesday (1 February). Teachers in Wales will also strike on 14 February. Some areas of England will also see teacher strikes on 28 February and on 1 and 2 March. Teachers in Scotland have been striking on and off since November 2022. They’ll finish the latest round of strikes on 6 February, each day only affecting two areas. There’ll also be strikes on 28 February and 1 March. In Northern Ireland, teachers have agreed to a half-day strike on the morning of 21 February.

First News Polls for "Should key workers such as nurses and teachers be able to strike?"

Here’s what all of you have to say:

As numerous employees have gone striking this year, we asked you whether key workers such as nurses and teachers should be able to strike. A total of 62% of you said YES they should. Let’s take a look at some of your comments!

We would love for your voice to be heard, so join in the conversation and cast your vote & comments at first.news/polls and your say could be featured in the upcoming First News issues!

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