Teachers vote to go on strike

Howard Brown of the Wearside NUT.
Howard Brown of the Wearside NUT.
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SCHOOLS across Wearside look set to be shut as teachers join one of the biggest strikes in history.

The NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers) is the latest union to vote for strike action over changes to pensions and pay.

Although 80 per cent of those who voted backed the action, the union said it was “not inevitable” that its members would strike on Wednesday, November 30, but would be working to rule from Thursday, December 1.

However, a host of other teaching unions, including the NUT (National Union of Teachers), the ATL (Assocation of Teachers and Lecturers), and the UCU (University and College Union), will be joining three million public sector workers staging a walkout next week.

More than 20 unions will be taking part in what is expected to be one of the biggest strikes in recent history, including Unite, the GMB, Napo (National Association of Probation Officers) and Ucatt (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians).

These represent workers from a wide range of public services including refuse collectors, dinner ladies, NHS staff and civil servants.

Dozens of Sunderland schools were closed in June when members of the NUT and the ATL staged a one-day strike over proposed changes to the pensions, which public sector workers say will see them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.

Howard Brown, the NUT’s divisional officer for Wearside, has said: “We have teachers facing losing pay in one of the most difficult financial times I can remember, but the strength of feeling on the issue is so strong it has to be done.”

The Hetton School teacher said that under the proposals, teachers will be forced to work until they are nearly 70.

The NASUWT, which balloted more than 230,000 members in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, said 82 per cent voted for a strike, while 91 per cent backed action short of a strike.

The work to rule from December 1 could mean teachers not working more than 32-and-a-half hours a week and refusing to carry out administrative tasks such as collecting money, putting up displays and administering exams.

The strength of feeling on the pensions issue has spurred members of the NAHT (National Association of Headteachers) to vote for strike action for the first time in the union’s 114-year history, although it has yet to confirm if it will be joining in on November 30.

The Government says with people living longer, the cost of public sector pensions is rising and reforms are needed.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb, said: “Strikes benefit no one. They damage pupils’ education, disrupt parents’ lives, and undermine teachers’ professional reputation.”

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