Teachers’ strike would be unforgivable, says Nadhim Zahawi

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Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, urged wealthy pensioners to consider paying back rising state pensions, while Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, played down fears the policy could fuel inflation .

Mr Johnson faces a new test of his leadership in two by-elections on Thursday, as voters in Tiverton and Honiton, Devon, and Wakefield, West Yorkshire, decide whether or not to sack Tory MPs.

Defeat in both constituencies would be seized by Tory rebels, who have not given up on their attempts to oust Mr Johnson, despite winning a confidence vote earlier this month.

As another day of strikes threaten to cause further economic damage, officials are drafting legislation that will repeal legal restrictions barring bosses from using agency staff to cover strikers.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said this would “minimize the negative and unfair impact of strikes”, adding: “Strikes in public services such as education can often mean parents have to stay home with their children rather than go to work, or rail sector strikes preventing commuters from getting to work or other businesses.

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Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, added that unions were “holding the country hostage” and said: “Repealing these 1970s restrictions will give businesses the freedom to quickly access fully qualified staff, while allowing people to continue their activities. uninterrupted lives to help keep the economy going.

Education Department officials said the new laws could play a role in minimizing disruption to students. Sources said “all options are on the table”.

But the change is unlikely to come soon enough to salvage a summer of disruption on rail networks, where bosses are bracing for a fresh wave of strikes in two weeks after talks with the RMT broke down on Wednesday.

In another threat to the holiday getaway, the Aslef union revealed it had voted for train drivers for a pay action at 11 major rail companies across the country. The action could start just as the schools are breaking out.

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On Wednesday, Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, blamed Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, for the “failed” negotiations, saying he was making it impossible to reach a settlement because he would not authorize the withdrawal of a letter threatening layoffs. for 2,900 members.

In an angry retort, the Transport Secretary said it was a ‘complete lie’ and called on the RMT to ‘stop wasting time making false claims in the media and go back to the place at the negotiating table, so that an agreement can be reached”.

Mr Zahawi now faces his own fight with the unions. He said while teachers deserved credit for their efforts, linking their salaries to inflation “with a war in Europe and supply chains recovering from Covid is irresponsible”.

On Wednesday morning, the NEU wrote to Mr Zahawi urging him to “respond to the new economic reality of double-digit inflation and the threat this poses to teachers’ living standards”.

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Dr Mary Bousted, co-general secretary of the NEU, urged Mr Zahawi to “commit to increased inflation for all teachers”.

The NEU’s letter came as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed inflation had hit a 40-year high of 9.1%.

A second education union, the National Union of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), has also said it will vote with its members for industrial action if staff do not get a 12 month pay rise. %.

Both unions represent primary teachers and between them represent the vast majority of school staff.

A second education union, the National Union of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), has also said it will vote with its members for industrial action if staff do not get a 12 month pay rise. %.

Both unions represent primary teachers and between them represent the vast majority of school staff.

The NEU claimed schools would face nationwide chaos if the strikes continued.

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