TEACHERS could be the next key workforce to go on strike as unrest grows around rising inflation.

The National Education Union has sent a stark warning to cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi, calling for action as inflation reaches 11.7 per cent.

And as the cost-of-living crisis begins to truly take its toll, the News & Star has heard that some Cumbrian teachers are seeking help from foodbanks and forced to choose between eating and heating.

Louise Atkinson, a Carlisle teacher and executive member of the NEU said: “There’s no educator that wants to go on strike but we know that we deserve better.

“Teachers are the people that are educating the future of our society. Teachers should not be using foodbanks, which I know that they are in Cumbria.

“We worked tirelessly (during Covid) and we’re still feeling the fallout from all of that.”

Ms Atkinson, who is also a member of Carlisle City Council, said that if Mr Zahawi does not heed their warning, a ballot will be held in Autumn, asking NEU teachers if they wish to go on strike.

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She said that a pay rise, in-line with inflation could avert the industrial action.

“That needs to be fully funded as well, we can’t have that coming out of school budgets. If they don’t do that, we need to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’

“I know everybody is feeling this pinch, but it comes down to what do we value?”

Mr Zahawi has said that the NEU’s potential industrial action would be “unforgivable” arguing that it would be “irresponsible” to disrupt children’s education after the upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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In their letter, the NEU has reminded the Government’s Secretary of State for Education that he recently suggested teachers could receive a three per cent pay rise.

But they say that inflation has increased dramatically since then.

The NEU said: “We calculate that teacher pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010, even before the effects of this latest bout of inflation. 

“Alongside the decline in teacher pay in real terms against inflation, it has also declined in relative terms against earnings. Average teacher salaries are at their lowest level compared to average earnings across the economy in over 40 years. 

“Teachers and school leaders often tell us that workload is their predominant concern.  But right now, our members are telling us pay is a big issue too.

Their warning is that a combination of unsustainable work hours and “ever-falling pay levels” could lead to strike action.

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