Teachers in East Sussex are being balloted on plans to take strike action next month.
The NUT and ATL teaching unions - which are in the process of amalgamating into the new National Education Union (NEU) - say their members have already shown support for strike action over pay following a series of consultative ballots.
Unions say the move is a result of pay in East Sussex falling below both the national average and the pay in other nearby local authorities. The unions say this is in part because the advisory pay scale set by East Sussex County Council does not include the two per cent pay increase which has been called for by a number of teaching organisations.
Teachers' pay is set by individual schools rather than by the council directly.
Phil Clarke of the National Education Union said: “The average cost to an East Sussex school to give all the eligible teachers the full pay award is only £1,700 per year across the whole school. To deny teachers’ pay equality for such a small sum of money is self-defeating and will only exacerbate problems around recruitment and retention of teachers.
“Already a teacher who has done five years of service is £4,546 worse off in real terms than they would have been in 2010. Alongside teacher workload, pay is a major factor in driving people out of the profession. Over half of all secondary teachers have been teaching for less than 10 years. East Sussex should be leading by example and not penny pinching over teachers’ pay.
“The schools we have conducted our consultation ballots in have all returned very high votes for industrial action on a high turnout. It is clear our members feel very strongly about this and we ask the East Sussex now talk to schools about changing the pay policy and finding the small sums of money per school to pay teachers in East Sussex at the agreed national rates.”
The union says the strikes are expected to take place in late April if an agreement cannot be reached.
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We consult annually on a Model Pay Policy for ESCC maintained schools, based on the Department for Education’s School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).
"It is the role of each Governing Body to decide if they wish to adopt the ESCC Model Pay Policy or, alternatively, to consult and adopt their own version within the national pay framework published in the STPCD.”