Sunderland teachers are ‘fighting for the future of education’ with strike

Protesters march through Newcastle as part of a one day national strike against pension changes and funding cuts to the public sector in June 2011.

Protesters march through Newcastle as part of a one day national strike against pension changes and funding cuts to the public sector in June 2011.

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STRIKING teachers are fighting for the future of education says a Wearside union leader.

The NUT and the NASUWT have announced they will be taking collective regional strike action next month as part of a row over attacks on pensions, pay, working conditions and jobs.

Together the unions represent 90 per cent of teachers, which means all schools in Sunderland will almost certainly close during the North-East regional walk-out on Thursday, October 17.

Sarah Lake, secretary of the Sunderland NUT branch, said she believes there will be a lot of support by teachers across the city for the strike action.

However, she said: “I think it will be a challenge to get the public on our side, but we need to remind people we are fighting for education.”

The union leaders said the NUT has calculated that at one point the Government was announcing new initiatives for education at a rate of two a week.

She said it is not just teachers, but lots of other public sector workers, who have suffered attacks on pay, pensions and conditions.

Ms Lake said although it has not been organised yet, there will probably be a regional rally in Newcastle on the day of the strike action.

Beverley Scanlon, Sunderland City Council’s head of commissioning and change management, said: “Now that the potential strike action has been confirmed we will work with schools to understand the implications at local level, including any closures. We will of course keep people informed.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Minister for Children and Families, said: “I don’t want to see local schools disrupted and neither do parents and pupils.

“These strikes are a sign of Michael Gove’s failure to engage properly with teachers, and it’s now down to him to get the unions around the table and resolve this dispute as soon as possible.”

Councillor Robert Oliver, Sunderland’s Tory spokesman for education – and himself a teacher – said: “The NUT and NASUWT are damaging the teaching profession by calling an unnecessary strike which will disrupt children’s learning and achieve nothing.

“Teachers’ pensions are better than many in the public and private sector, and continuing strikes run the risk of alienating public support.”

There will be regional strikes on Tuesday, October 1, in the East, Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber areas and on Thursday, October 17, in London, North East, South East and South West.

The NASUWT and NUT are expected to hold a national one-day strike later this year.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said he condemns the strike action.