Commenting on the passing of motion 10 at the National Education Union’s Annual Conference, which is being held virtually, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The Government's ideologically-driven pay freeze is both unjustified and unfair. Education staff are key workers who have contributed hugely to the country's pandemic response, but this year they face another significant cut to the real value of their pay against inflation following a decade of previous attacks on their pay.

“As the economy recovers from the pandemic, inflation and earnings in the wider economy will pick up. Education staff face a double-whammy of cuts to the real value of their pay and a growing gap between their pay levels and those in comparable professions. This is not only unfair but will also intensify the existing recruitment and retention problems in schools and colleges. The pandemic has not solved those underlying problems but pay freezes and pay cuts will make them worse.

“In addition to pay cuts which were themselves unjustified, performance-related pay (PRP) has been imposed on teachers due to Government ideology and with no regard for the damage it causes. PRP and the dismantling of the national pay structure have contributed to the lack of transparency and fairness in pay. There are major concerns about the equality impact of the imposition of PRP, as shown by NEU member surveys. Instead of responding to the evidence that PRP in education is fundamentally unfair, inappropriate and damaging, the Government prefers to plough on with its ideological obsession.

“The contribution of education staff to the pandemic response has been immense, but their contribution to the recovery from the pandemic will also be crucial. The Government should be investing in education and valuing education staff properly, but instead it is choosing to repeat the failed austerity approach of cutting public sector pay. Other countries are not making this mistake. Public sector wages are spent in the private sector, so public sector pay cuts will create problems for the private sector too.

“We need fair pay for all education staff. Education staff don't need pay cuts and PRP, they need to be valued as the key workers they are. NEU members in schools and colleges continue to campaign for fair pay in education. The success of our campaign is essential if we are to reward education staff properly and rebuild the country's skills base in the wake of the pandemic.”