Striking teachers blamed for being a drag on flat-lining economy

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STRIKING teachers are being blamed for being a drag on the flat-lining economy.

But Jeremy Hunt said it would be a “terrible mistake” to give above inflation pay hikes even if industrial action is hurting UK growth.

Striking teachers are being blamed for being a drag on the flat-lining economy

The Chancellor, in Washington DC, said that any such wage increases would have a “more damaging” impact on the economy.

Walkouts by teachers and civil servants were said to be a key factor behind zero growth in February.

Darren Morgan, from the Office for National Statistics said: “The economy saw no growth in February overall . . . with Civil Service and teachers’ strike action impacting the public sector.”

Classroom staff in England and Wales joined the biggest strike day for a decade as seven trade unions downed tools.

But the crippling industrial action on February 1 was offset by strong performances from the construction and retail sectors.

And GDP for the three months to February grew by 0.1 per cent.

Mr Hunt said the outlook was now “brighter than expected” and the country should avoid a recession.

The International Monetary Fund had claimed the UK economy would shrink by 0.3 per cent this year. But the Chancellor, who is in Washington for the IMF’s spring meetings, said our economy will do “significantly better” than that.

He added: “The worst thing we can do for junior doctors, nurses, train drivers and teachers is manage the economy in a way that they are still worried about ten per cent cost of living increases in a year’s time.”

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves blasted the economic figures, saying growth is “on the floor”.

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