Teaching unions consider coordinated strikes in England

Teachers join the strike action in Luton

LONDON (Reuters) -Four teachers unions said on Friday they could take coordinated strike action in England later this year as they seek to increase pressure on the government in a dispute over pay which has already caused widespread disruption in schools.

"Our members will be standing together to demonstrate the power of the teaching profession and the opposition of teachers to pay restraint and cuts to real-terms pay," Patrick Roach, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers told a joint news conference.

Coordinated strikes could close almost all schools in England at the same time, representing an escalation of the dispute with the government.

Earlier this month teachers overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer and some walked out again on Thursday before another strike on May 2.

Earlier on Friday the National Education Union (NEU) said it would hold a ballot of its members in state-funded schools in England for further strike action in the long-running dispute at a time when other public sector workers are also striking.

The NEU, which represents more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers and support staff across Britain, said the ballot would open on May 15 and close on July 28.

In a letter to education minister Gillian Keegan which it made public, the NEU said the action was due to a failure to provide the union with "a fully funded above-inflation pay rise".

The government's offer comprised a one-off payment this year of 1,000 pounds ($1,256.40) and an average pay rise of 4.5% in the next financial year. Inflation is running at around 10%.

Keegan has said she will wait to receive recommendations from an independent body that reviews teachers' pay before deciding the next pay award in the coming months.

Teachers in Wales and Scotland have both accepted pay offers and ended their strike action.

($1 = 0.7959 pound)

(Reporting by William Schomberg and Farouq Suleiman; Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Jonathan Oatis)