Because of the hours they work, and their rates of pay, some newly qualified teachers barely earn more than the national minimum wage, one teachers’ union warns.
Ahead of its first conference, the National Education Union says teachers’ pay will dominate proceedings along with teacher welfare issues.
The joint general secretaries of the union, Kevin Courtney and Dr Mary Bousted, say that the issue over pay is growing in importance among members.
The growing anger follows the unprecedented decision last year by the government to ignore the School Teachers Review Body’s recommendation that all teachers receive a 3.5% pay rise.
Teachers say they are ‘earning just over the UK’s minimum wage’
Now Mr Courtney says the union is being contacted by teachers who say they are ‘earning just over the UK’s minimum wage’ which is £8.21 an hour currently for those aged over 25. Many of these teachers are also telling their union that they cannot afford to live in London or buy new clothes.
Mr Courtney added: “There are newly qualified teachers telling us that they have worked out how many hours they are working each week and dividing that by their pay they get per week and come up with numbers that show they earn slightly more, it’s around 10%, than the national minimum wage on their hourly rates.”
The newly qualified teachers say they work a 54 hour week to calculate their hourly earnings – and some teachers say they are working more than 54 hours a week.
Also, a survey of London teachers recently highlighted the stark choices being faced by school staff working there.
Mr Courtney said: “Teachers tell us they cannot afford to buy new clothes and many of them live at home with their parents.”
He added that lots of newly qualified teachers in London are turning to charity shops to buy their clothes.
Motion urging a 5% pay rise for all teachers
The NEU’s conference is the first since the ATL and the NUT unions merged and delegates will debate a motion urging a 5% pay rise for all teachers.
Should the motion be carried, then there will be a commitment to undertake strike action if the teachers demands are not met.
The union’s executive is also looking for support for a consultation among members over teachers taking potential strike action against any future school funding budget cuts.
Delegates to the conference in Liverpool will also debate a call for the abolition of Ofsted over concerns about the new inspection framework that will come into force from September.