Teachers' Strike Action
The row over pay, pensions and workload continues and in March this year the two major teaching unions, the NUT and NASUWT, announced plans for strike action. The strike action is set to commence in the northwest on 27th June 2013 and it is envisaged that a succession of strikes up and down the country will follow in the summer and autumn terms, with the possibility of a one day national strike. The Department for Education has stated that less than a quarter of union members voted for strike action. However considering these unions represent 90% of teachers and there are over 400,000 members across both teaching unions, the proposed strike action is likely to have a significant impact on schools across England and Wales.
What is protected industrial action?Protected industrial action is called as a result of a properly organised ballot and is in relation to a dispute between the workers and their employer, usually due to their terms and conditions. In this case the teaching unions are particularly incensed by the government’s proposals regarding performance related pay for teachers (to be introduced in September 2013) and changes affecting teachers’ pensions.
Notice of strike action:Strike action must commence within 4 weeks after the close of the ballot and employers should be given 7 days’ notice of when strike action is to take place. The notice of strike action must include:
- A list of the categories of employee to be called out (e.g. teacher)
- The total number of the employees affected in the school
- Alternatively the union can instead provide information which will allow the employer to ‘readily deduce’ the above information.
- Please note there is no obligation on trade unions to disclose the names of members taking part.
Effects of industrial action on employees:
- Loss of pay. Employers need not pay their staff for taking part in industrial action as they are withdrawing their labour;
- Continuity of service is not affected, however, the days where an employee is on strike may be deducted from their overall length of service, and this may have implications for future redundancy payments and pensions;
- Employees who are on sick leave which commenced before the strike action will retain their right to statutory sick pay (SSP) for that period of absence
- If an employee reports that they are sick on the day of proposed strike action then the employer is at liberty to make their own judgement as to whether that employee is genuinely absent due to sickness or is taking part in strike action. Employees who cannot show that they have not participated in the strike action are not entitled to receive SSP.