Fears over consequences of plan to devolve Welsh pay and conditions


Proposals to devolve teachers’ pay and conditions in Wales will leave staff short-changed, unions have warned.

ATL Cymru and NUT Cymru were responding to initial recommendations made by the Silk Commission, which is looking at the scope of the National Assembly of Wales’ powers.

Set up by the UK coalition government, a 114-page report from the commission says responsibility for policing, broadcasting and large energy projects should remain at Westminster, but teachers’ pay and rail franchising could be devolved.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said the vast majority of teachers oppose the move as they fear that, as with every other aspect of education funding in Wales, they would be short-changed.

NUT Cymru secretary David Evans said the recommendation should be rejected as acceptance would lead to a position whereby pay rates would be driven down.

He added: “The NUT could never agree to a situation where teachers in Wales could end up being paid less than colleagues in other areas of the UK for doing the same work. 

“That is an issue previously recognised at the Senedd and there is no valid argument put forward in the commission’s report that would justify any change of mind. 

“Teachers’ pay and conditions must be protected if we are to ensure that the best practitioners remain in our Welsh schools.”

Dr Dixon added that while this recommendation would be very unpopular with teachers, moves being considered in Westminster aimed at breaking up a national pay structure completely would be even more unwelcome. 

He said: “One thing is sure, if teachers in Wales are not adequately rewarded we will see the same brain drain from schools that we have seen elsewhere in the Welsh economy. This whole area is one that we should approach with extreme caution and careful argument.”

First minister Carwyn Jones described the Silk Commission’s proposals for new powers for the Assembly as a package which could “settle” the issue of devolution for at least a decade.

He said he broadly welcomed it as it recommended the devolution of key powers sought by the Welsh government but admitted that the devolution of teachers’ pay and conditions had not been something the Welsh government had requested.

NUT Cymru is now calling for an early decision to be made on the matter and teachers given an assurance that they have the backing of the Welsh government.



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