TEACHERS were out in force once again across Halton for the eighth day of strike action in the NEU’s fight for better pay.

National Education Union members stepped up to the picket lines outside various schools within the borough, including Saints Peter and Paul Catholic High School in Widnes and OBA in Runcorn.

It is the second day of action this week, following Wednesday’s strikes and Labour MP Mike Amesbury came out to show his solidarity and support.

Speaking of the ongoing pay dispute, he said: “I am here standing shoulder to shoulder with teachers and support staff in my local community who do a great job for children and families trying to provide a first-class education for everybody.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Halton teachers came out in force as the eighth day of strike action commencedHalton teachers came out in force as the eighth day of strike action commenced (Image: NEU)

“They deserve a good decent cost of living pay rise and schools need more investment.”

The Government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year (2022/23) and an average 4.5 per cent rise for staff next year after extensive talks with the unions.

But this offer was rejected, and the decision on teachers’ pay in England for next year has been passed to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).

The NEU accused the Government of sitting on that pay review body’s report, which it believes recommends a 6.5 per cent increase.

NEU representative for Halton, Deborah Gywnn spoke of the union’s frustration towards the lack of negotiation talks be made by Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Teachers are fighting for a pay rise in line with the rate of inflationTeachers are fighting for a pay rise in line with the rate of inflation (Image: Supplied)

“There is a recruitment and retention crisis in teaching which is resulting in bigger class sizes. The Government has failed to meet its own targets for teacher trainee recruits for both secondary and primary for the second year running.”

Government Education Minister, Robert Halfon said: “The message from the Government is that we have to be as fair as possible, given the very difficult economic circumstances.

“We have to be as fair as possible to teachers and support staff, I completely get that.

“But we have to be fair to the taxpayer and make sure we bear down on inflation as well, as that is the biggest tax on the cost of living – that would affect everyone, teachers and support staff included.”