BOLTON teachers look set to back strike action that could close schools across the borough.

Julia Simpkins, secretary of the Bolton branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), says very few schools will remain open if her members and those in a separate union stage a walk-out.

Her comments come after NUT members nationally voted to go on strike over the “erosion” of their pay and working conditions.

The union said its ballot of members had shown 82.5 per cent were in favour of walk-outs, with a turnout of 27 per cent.

Members also voted for industrial action short of a strike, with 91.6 per cent in favour.

The NUT, which has previously balloted members over changes to public sector pensions, has warned of joint strikes with the NASUWT teachers’ union, which already has a mandate to take industrial action over the same issues.

Ms Simpkins, who has been in teaching for 30 years, said: “The NUT has about 1,600 members in Bolton.

“The reason for this latest ballot was to bring us into line with the NASUWT.

“Our previous ballot was just about pensions, but this has been a more general one. It means both unions can go on strike together on the same issues and that very few schools will be able to remain open.

“Pensions is still a very live issue which affects everybody. These are being cut and we are also been asked to work for longer in what is a very physically demanding job.

“Then there’s the whole business of testing, which we are very much against.”

Stressing that any strike action would be justified, Ms Simpkins added: “People had gone into teaching, not to make a huge amount of money, but because of secure employment and a good pension and because it was something of reasonable standing in the community. All of that has been eroded.

“People are angry. We don’t want to go on strike.

“We want to be treated as professionals and that’s what it comes down to in the end.”

This week, the NASUWT will be setting out jointly with the NUT the next steps to take following the ballot results.