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Civil servants to stage fresh walkouts as teaching union tells members to turn down offer

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Civil servants will continue to strike throughout April over an ongoing dispute about pay and conditions, a union boss has announced.

The general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Mark Serwotka, said his members “are not backing down”, with numerous actions planned for the month – including an “all out” strike day on 28 April, which will see 133,000 members on the picket line.

The move was agreed by the union’s executive committee on Monday and means there will be strike action in different parts of the civil service from today until the end of April – including passport workers, who are walking out for five weeks until 6 May.

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The newest action will come from Ofgem workers based in Canary Wharf and Glasgow, who will go on strike for six days from 10 April, and on 17 April.

Mr Serwotka said: “Our members are not backing down in this dispute. Ministers need to take notice that we’re escalating our action and they need to resolve the dispute by putting money on the table.

“We know our strikes have already caused serious disruption. The new strikes and another national day of action will pile the pressure on a government that refuses to listen.”

Pay offer for teachers

Meanwhile, the National Education Union (NEU) has told its members to reject an offer from the government to settle its ongoing pay dispute.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had “put forward a fair and reasonable offer”, with an average 4.5% pay rise for next year and a £1,000 one-off payment for this year, as well as a commitment to “reduce workload by five hours each week”.

But while the government claims the rise is fully funded, the union said up to 58% of schools would have to make cuts next year to afford it.

The NEU have opened a ballot so members can vote on the offer from today, but called it “insulting”, saying the government “simply does not value teachers”.

The unions joint general secretaries, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, added: “It is now crystal clear that we have an education secretary and a government that is ignoring the crisis in our schools and colleges.

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Speaking during the last teachers’ strike, Dr Mary Bousted said some of her members ‘have nothing left at the end of the month’

“By refusing to address the legitimate and reasonable request to bring to an end more than a decade of below-inflation unfunded teacher pay increases, the government is driving teaching and recruitment retention in schools in England to breaking point.

“No child benefits from this level of underfunding. Investing in the education of this generation of children and young people, those hit so hard by COVID is essential to economic recovery.

“To sit by and allow so many talented teachers to leave for reasons which are entirely fixable, should be a point of shame for this government.”

The general secretary of the headteachers’ union NAHT, Paul Whiteman, said they had received the same offer as other unions and would be “considering the details of this offer this evening” before deciding on their “next steps”.

‘Fair and reasonable’

The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said the union would circulate full details of the offer to their members tomorrow and “ask them for their feedback over the next few days as to whether we should accept or decline the offer”.

He added: “This is a matter of great importance to leaders, teachers and parents, and we are ensuring that our response is fully considered and representative of our members in schools across the country.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “The government and the education unions – NAHT, ASCL, NEU and NASUWT – have engaged in intensive discussions over the last 10 days.

“The government has put forward a fair and reasonable offer, backed with funding for schools. The offer provides an average 4.5% pay rise for next year, puts £1,000 into the pockets of teachers as a one-off payment for this year, and commits to reducing workload by five hours each week.

“This is a good deal for teachers that acknowledges their hard work and dedication.”

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