Teachers pay offer will reduce standard of living for teachers, unions say

Unions have warned that a pay increase for teachers above the 2% target suggested by Gordon Brown, will still not help with recruitment and retention problems.

Schools secretary Ed Balls yesterday accepted the three-year pay recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body of a 2.45% pay rise for teachers from September 2008, and increases of 2.3% a year for 2009 and 2010.

Teachers are the first public sector workers to be bound by a multi-year pay settlement.

Last week the prime minister asked all public sector workers to enter three-year pay deals, to curb inflation and help workforce planning, although leading commentators have said such deals will heap pressure on HR.

The 2.45% pay award for teachers is higher than the expected 2%,but unions still criticised the announcement as the figure is still well below the rate of inflation, today announced at 4%.

National Union of Teachers general secretary Steve Sinnott said the amount will do nothing to help recruitment and retention problems schools face.

“[The pay offer] will reduce the standard of living for teachers and exacerbate the problems of recruitment and retention. Teachers have to pay increases in the cost of housing, fuel and food. This settlement is in effect a pay cut,” he said.

Balls, however, said: “Today’s pay award will enable teachers and schools to plan ahead with a greater degree of security and certainty and at the same time will help deliver stability for the taxpayer and the wider economy.

“I believe this pay award, the first of the government’s three-year, forward looking, public sector pay awards, is fair for teachers and affordable for schools.”

Balls said he will set the School Teachers’ Review Body a remit in the course of 2008 to enable it to ensure the increases proposed for 2009 and 2010 continue to be appropriate in the light of latest recruitment and retention data, and wider economic and labour market conditions.

Meanwhile unions Unison, GMB and Unite are to lodge a pay claim of 6% for more than a million council workers – well above the government’s 2% target and despite attempts by the government to introduce three-year pay deals.

This would deliver a minimum wage of £6.50 an hour for local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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