Teachers in England overwhelmingly rejected a “final” pay offer from the government and announced more strikes, prolonging the fight over wages and the workload in English schools.

The National Education Union, England’s largest teachers’ union, announced Monday that 98 percent of its members voted to reject an offer of an average pay increase of 4.5 percent next year, and a bonus of £1,000 plus a 5 per cent increase this year. year. Participation was 66 percent.

The decision sets the stage for a showdown between the union and the government so widespread industrial action The bonus in England continues, despite the agreement on wage increases in some sectors, such as health.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, indicated last week that the Education Department would not renegotiate the payments if the government’s offer, which was made last week after days of negotiations, was rejected.

Government officials also said the offer of a £1,000 bonus would be withdrawn and the decision on next year’s pay would go back to an independent review body, which could decide on a lower pay rise.

However, Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the NEU’s assistant general secretaries, said the “outright rejection” should leave Keegan “with no doubt that he will have to come back to the negotiating table with a much better proposal.”

The union also announced new strike dates, April 27 and May 2. It has already held strikes for six days in the last two months.

The looming strike could be especially unsettling for students as it takes place on the eve of crucial exams. The union said it would work with head teachers to ensure pupils who were due to take exams had a “full education programme” on strike days.

“No teacher wants to be on strike. They also cannot accept this offer that does nothing to address decades of below-inflation wage increases,” Courtney and Bousted said.

They added that the government’s offer fell short of the wage deals that ended the strikes in Scotland and Wales, and was not fully funded, so would mean spending cuts in other areas for some schools.

“The Ministry of Education has united the profession in its outrage over this insulting salary offer,” they said.

Keegan said it was “extremely disappointing” that the NEU had called more strikes, which he said would “result in more disruptions for kids and less money for teachers today.”

She said the payment offer was “funded, including major new investment of over half a billion pounds, in addition to record funding already planned for school budgets.”

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