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NAHT Cymru secures new mandate for continued industrial action

School leaders in Wales have supported continuing industrial action, which could escalate to strike action.

NAHT Cymru members have been taking action short of strike since February in their dispute over pay, workload and funding. In March, they voted to reject an offer from the Welsh government covering both 2022/23 and 2023/24.

The union launched a reballot of its members on June 5, to renew its mandate for industrial action, which was due to expire in July.

And they have overwhelmingly backed continuing their industrial action, with 95% supporting continuing action short of strike, and 74% prepared to strike if necessary.

The government has nevertheless awarded the 3% pay uplift offered for the current academic year, but despite its assurances this would be fully funded, concerns among NAHT members that this would not be the case have proved justified in many areas of the country.

NAHT Cymru director Laura Doel, said: “Our renewed mandate sends a clear message to the local authority employers and the Welsh Government that our members’ resolve has not weakened and they remain determined to fight over pay, funding and workload.

“Leaders’ and teachers’ pay has deteriorated by 24% in the last 10 years. On top of that, our members have been frustrated by the continued failure of all employers and the Welsh government to guarantee that pay awards will be fully funded and to finalise a tangible agreement to reduce workload.

“The ongoing recruitment and retention issues, compounded by pay and funding concerns, have left schools unable to deliver and they are feeling the pressure.

“While all parties remain committed to negotiations, progress is slow. School leaders are taking a stand in their fight to defend education and they won’t rest until they get what they need to support their learners.”

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, added: “It can’t be right that our members are having to cut their school budgets and seriously consider redundancies just to afford even a below-inflation pay offer.

“At the same time, they are drowning amid unsustainable workload and all this places huge strain upon their wellbeing. It’s little wonder that schools are facing a growing staff recruitment and retention crisis.

“All this is bad news for not only school leaders and teachers, but also pupils and parents.

“Our members don’t want to have to strike, but if this is to be avoided it’s crucial this fresh mandate focuses the minds of the Welsh government and local employers to finally come up with an acceptable offer.”  

NAHT Cymru’s action short of strike, which will now continue, means that union members who are employed as headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers and middle leaders will:

  1. refuse to provide information regarding staff participation in industrial action
  2. abstain from facilitating or arranging cover for those taking part in any action
  3. refuse to facilitate any unsolicited school visits
  4. refuse to participate in and/or respond to any/all consultations, surveys, projects, meetings, webinars or data requests from the LA, consortia or Welsh Government
  5. refuse to take part in and/or restrictions on the availability to receive or respond to calls, emails before 9am or after 3pm
  6. abstain from attending meetings after 5pm
  7. refuse to engage with Estyn beyond statutory requirements.

The Welsh government’s previous offer included an additional payment of 3% for this academic year (2022/23), made up of a 1.5% consolidated award and a further 1.5% unconsolidated lump-sum. The offer also included a further pay rise of 5% from September 2023, plus an agreement on workload.

First published 28 June 2023