Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Teachers strike over pay and pensions
Members of the two biggest teaching unions in the UK are striking in a row over pay, pensions and workloads. The walkout is affecting schools in 49 authorities in the east of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber. It is part of a continuing campaign of rolling regional strikes involving members of the NUT and NASUWT. The government said the strike action would disrupt pupils' learning, inconvenience parents and damage the reputation of teachers. Between them, the two unions represent nine out of 10 teachers. They are angry about changes to their pensions, increased workload and about government plans to bring in performance-related pay, from this autumn. 'Relentless attacks' NUT general secretary Christine Blower, said: "No teacher takes strike action lightly but the intransigence of this education secretary has left teachers with no choice. "We cannot stand by and watch our profession be systematically attacked and undermined. "There needs to be a change in the government's attitude to teachers and education." Susi Artis, a spokeswoman for the NUT in Nottingham, said: "I recognise that for a lot of parents this is really inconvenient and we're very sorry for that. Striking is very much a last resort." Ian Lever, from the NUT in Leicester, said: "Teachers are very angry about what is happening to the education system in this country and are prepared to make a stand on it. "These are relentless attacks from this government, not just on our pay and conditions, but on the education system in general. "As professionals, as people who care about education, teachers are saying 'enough is enough' - we have to do something about this." 'Share childcare' Jane Lucas, a parent from Coventry, said one of her children is at home and one at school. She said: "Luckily, there's a couple of mums that we've managed to rally round and we're going to share the childcare today. "It's difficult because I do support any worker who wants to fight for the right of their pensions and pay, it's just unfortunate that it's affecting children." Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Strike action is a last resort, teachers have been left with no choice but to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the face of their genuine concerns being dismissed and trivialised. "Teachers of course deeply regret any disruption to children and families. "Such action would have been unnecessary had the Secretary of State been prepared to engage in genuine discussions." A Department for Education spokesman said: "It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government's measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more. "Industrial action will disrupt pupils' education, hugely inconvenience parents and damage the profession's reputation in the eyes of the public at a time when our reforms are driving up standards across the country. "In a recent poll, 61% of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70% either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all." A further regional strike is planned in London, the North East, South East and South West on 17 October. Plans for a national one-day walkout before Christmas have also been announced by the two unions.