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National politics

Teachers only lose half a day’s pay when they strike

It has come to my attention over the last few days that when teachers go on strike on 30th November and close your school, costing you a day’s holiday or a full day’s pay the teacher causing you this pain will only effectively lose half a day’s pay.

The national Ts and Cs for teachers in England and Wales, the so-called Burgundy book, specify that deductions should only be made at a rate of 1/365th. Section 3.2 reads as follows:

In addition to the provisions of Sections 4, 5 and 6, where authorised unpaid leave of absence or unauthorised absence (e.g. strike action) occurs deductions of salary shall be calculated at a daily or part-daily rate based on the day’s salary being 1/365th of a year for each day of the period of absence.

The upshot is that teachers are only really losing half a day’s pay. Teachers barely work for half of the days of the year. When they need training parents, outrageously, have to deal with so-called INSET days in term time. The 1/365th formula would be fair if teachers went on strike on a public holiday, on a weekend day or gave up a holiday day. Maybe they are planning the next teachers’ strike on Christmas day? But they don’t therefore they should be losing about 1/180th of their annual salary, twice as much as agreed.

Such pay deductions, as the recent New York labor posters clearly show, are legally treated as damages to reimburse the employer for the services lost due to withdrawal of labour. The loss to employers is a day of face time in front of children. This is worth at least twice as much as the deduction of 1/365th.

The number for non-teaching staff at 1/260th is also too generous. It does not account for annual leave and public holidays. Most public service workers get more than 20 days holiday plus 8 days public holiday so 28-40 days need to be lopped off the 260. Other public service workers are getting a 15% discount typically when they buy back a day of time when on strike.

The disparity between teaching and non-teaching staff shows how ludicrous this very expensive concession to teachers is. The school cleaner will be a lot worse off than the head on strike days.

During the last teacher’s strike over pensions on 30th June (another day’s holiday blown for the people who pay the bills) 850 Ealing teachers went on strike and the council saved £110K due to deductions from their pay. It should have been twice this much if the employers had negotiated a sensible set of Ts and Cs with this particular group of staff.

Overall the country will be paying out £100 millions for work not done on 30th November. Striking should be twice as expensive for teachers. They clearly like it too much at the current price.

16 replies on “Teachers only lose half a day’s pay when they strike”

One weeks JSA of £65.00 is roughly the same as teachers will lose for a day’s pay, or more than 10 hours minimum wage before stoppages for millions of workers!

If the principle is that the employer is entitled to a compensatory payment, then the deduction should be at least three days. That would cover a supply teacher (they are more expensive) and the extra management time and the sheer bloody inconvenience caused.

In fact, perhaps that is the new law we need? Any day taken off work due to strike action will result in the deduction of 5 working days’ pay.

John,

I think that you are in the realms of consequential loss there which would be taking it too far. I would settle for getting the teachers back into the reality based community.

“Teachers barely work for half of the days of the year.”

Don’t forget the work they do outside of the classroom. My mum was an infant school teacher for about 35 years (5-7 year olds) until she retired a few years ago. She left for work each day at around 8.30am and got home about 6pm. The school was a ten minute car journey away, but she got home about 6 because after the kids left she stayed behind at the school working. Once she got home she would cook us dinner, and then do marking, lesson planning, putting together displays, report writing, admin etc from about 8-10pm each night.

At weekends she would go to the local library and select books to read to the children. She would also do several hours more of marking, lesson planning, putting together displays, report writing, admin etc. Holidays would not all be work free either, at least a little bit of work would get done most days. I only remember her taking two days off sick while I was growing up. A cold didn’t count as being ill to her.

Not all teachers would work as hard as my mum did, but to claim that none of them do – that the job stops at the school gates – is untrue. It is a difficult, stressful job to do, both in terms of the amount of work needed and the type of work. And generally less well paid than driving a tube train up and down the underground.

Emily,

Lots of workers have to do long hours, and earn considerably less than teachers.

You miss my main point though. If a teacher does not work for a school day then they don’t have to prep that day either or do any resulting marking. Teachers on holiday have no value to the end user. They are available roughly 180 school days and if they strike on one of those they should lose 1/180th of their annual pay if the damages are to be fair.

As I say I look forward to the teachers striking on Christmas day. 1/365th is a total con on the public.

Phil,
Do you actually know any teachers? Have you any idea of how hard they work? Have you any ide of the conditions under which they work? I suspect the answer to all these questions must be “no”, otherwise you wouldn’t talk such arrant nonsense.

Perhaps you also ought to look at the T&Cs of other groups of workers and see what the arrangements are for them if they take a day off without pay.

Who exactly are these workers who work such long hours for so little pay?

Marcus,

I am a primary school govenor and have been for six years. It is a voluntary role. Teachers do work hard. Lots of people do.

You clearly didn’t read my piece above. Even within schools non-teaching staff get treated differently to teachers. Non-teaching staff are deducted at 1/260th of annual salary whereas teachers are deducted at 1/365th. It is simply not fair. If teachers want to go on strike on Christmas day then 1/365th might make sense but they always choose to go on strike on a school day of which there are only about 180 per year.

The amount of nonsense Phil Taylor spouts is absolutely astounding. I disliked Tories before I stumbled upon this blog, reading the various posts on here certainly reminds me why.

I am revolted by this attempt to perpetuate the fallacy that teachers barely work. It is highly offensive to the entire profession.
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‘Teachers barely work for half of the days of the year. When they need training parents, outrageously, have to deal with so-called INSET days in term time. ‘

A straw poll at the school I work in revealed an average of a 50 hour week in the classroom, plus time spent in the evenings and at the weekend. During these so called ‘holidays’ many staff spend time at school planning and preparing resources.
‘The school cleaner will be a lot worse off than the head on strike days”

The school cleaners won’t be worse off. They are not in the teaching unions and so do not strike, and no school I know of asked them not to work on the day of the strike.

“When they need training parents, outrageously, have to deal with so-called INSET days in term time”
I would have thought that any politician with a modicum of sense would welcome the continuing professional development of teachers. You are also under a siginificant misapprehension.I would settle for getting the teachers back into the reality based community.
Inset days are NOT in children’s term time. This is from the Department of Education.
‘Schools must open for 380 half-day sessions (190 days) in each school year, beginning from the first term – which is to start after July. This is consistent with the annual up-to-195-days required by a teacher’s statutory conditions of service; the additional up-to-five-days are non-teaching work days.’

“Teachers on holiday have no value to the end user.”
In a profession with huge rates of mental health problems, dangerous levels of stress and alarming degress of burn out I would suggest that the holidays are in fact essential to the ‘end user’ – by whom I presume you mean the pupils.

“I would settle for getting the teachers back into the reality based community.”
Are you absolutely sure you are a school governor? I changed career to enter teaching, having worked in senior positions in an extremely challenging business. I can safely say I have never encountered a profession that is more ‘reality based’, nor indeed encountered professionals more dedicated and selfless.

Mary,

You seem a little defensive here. I have simply pointed out a disparity in teachers’ Ts and Cs and you are off the deep end. I fully acknowledge that many, I am sure most, teachers work very hard. A couple of my best mates are teachers so I do have some understanding. I really do appreciate what teachers do but does your professional pride (you say you are a teacher) really require me to preface any remark I make about teachers with a homily on the virtues of teachers?

I thank you for the information on actual Ts and Cs. If teachers ever went on strike on non-teaching days I would use the 195 number you gave me. If the number of teaching days is 190 then in fairness teachers should lose 190th of their pay for every strike day that causes a teaching day to be lost. The penalty is meant to be a compensation for the lost time. The users of the service and the government paying the bills expects 190 days a year. Therefore teachers should lose 190th of their pay. Otherwise go on strike on a Sunday when you are doing the prep!

Sorry you obvisouly don’t understand the point of striking it is ment to be disruptive, why the hell would someone strike in a Sunday or holidays that isn’t going to bother anyone. But then again you are backing that completely brain dead boris so you must be a bit touched as they say. I hope teachers keep striking until the government see sence. Oh and I see mp’s pensions aren’t under attack hummmm double standards ad per usual.

Lorraine,

You seem to be another terrible advert for our education system judging by your spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I do understand the disruption issue. You don’t seem to understand the unfairness of dividing by 365 rather than 190 – maybe your maths isn’t up to much either.

Wow, I have to say I agree with Mary, Lorraine and David. I am a teacher and I agree that we do work hard and I know that there are other jobs where people work just as hard. But as a teacher you don’t paid extra for the abuse you can sometimes get from parents and you have to bite your tongue and take it. I work evenings, weekends and some holidays with fixtures and tours etc and we do not get paid overtime. But it is okay for MP’s to choose what they do and when, not have their pay cut, have funds available for their travel and meals etc. Phil find another group of people to pick on and allow us to fight for what is ours. We have been paying into pension schemes and we won’t see a lot of that either.

Becky,

Lots of people who work with the public have to put up with some terrible behaviour. It isn’t right but it is not unique to teachers. We all need to be more respectful of those we interact with.

I am amused to think that I could single-handedly pick on a work force of 440,000 state school teachers in the UK.

Most people who are losing an argument try to change the subject. Is it fair that you only lose 1/365th of your pay when you go on strike? No.

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