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Teaching union suspends two days of strikes in Wales after revised pay offer

Two days of strike action by teachers in Wales next week have been called off after the Welsh Government proposed a revised pay offer.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) were due to take industrial action in Wales on March 15-16 in an ongoing dispute over pay.

But the NEU, the largest education union in the UK, has announced that the strikes in Wales will be suspended while members consider the pay offer.

In England, the two strike days will remain in place.

The NEU will consult its teacher members in Wales on the revised pay offer, which includes an additional 3% pay award for 2022/23 – 1.5% consolidated and 1.5% non-consolidated.

It also includes a recommendation that the 2023/24 pay award would be increased to 5% with effect from September 1, and it would be fully funded.

In a letter on Friday setting out the revised pay offer, Welsh Government education minister Jeremy Miles said: “I can confirm that should conversations in England result in an offer for teachers and leaders which is higher than any pay settlement in Wales, we would match the pay award.”

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the NEU, said: “We thank the Welsh Government for the constructive manner in which they have pursued a solution to the current dispute over pay.

“It is vital that we do all we can, together, to combat the recruitment and retention crisis and ensure that more people join the profession and stay in the profession.

“The Welsh Government recognises this and has also understood the importance of the pay offer being fully funded. In addition, they have committed to working with us on tackling workload.”

The NEU general secretaries added: “This is in stark contrast to the behaviour of Gillian Keegan, who is preventing talks in England. This week she refused even to talks at Acas.

“The NEU has said time and again we will enter negotiations. The talks can go ahead at any time – it is Government who are declining and setting the preconditions, not the NEU.

“If it is true that the Education Secretary has the blessing of Government to negotiate on pay for this year and next, then there is nothing preventing talks other than her own intransigence.

“We have demonstrated in Wales that we are more than willing to enter serious negotiations and suspend strike action while we consult our members on an offer.”

Talks will continue with the Welsh Government on a range of other issues important to NEU members, such as school funding and workload.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the decision to pause strikes. This is good news for pupils, parents and the teaching profession.

“Taken alongside the progress we have made in bringing together a package of measures to reduce workload, we believe this is a good pay offer that we hope members can support.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Over two weeks have now passed since I made a serious offer to the National Education Union to start intensive talks on all areas of their dispute, including pay – on the single and reasonable condition that they pause their planned strikes which are damaging to children and disruptive to parents.

“This is the same offer that was accepted by unions representing nurses, ambulance workers and physiotherapists who all agreed to call off their strikes and are now representing their members in talks with the Government.

“My offer still stands, to enter negotiations where we can discuss pay and end the disruption for children, their families and teachers.”