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18 December 2017
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Audio: Schools will close as teachers strike PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 November 2011 14:45

How big's your pension
School closures are likely across the city on Wednesday (November 30) as teachers, support staff and perhaps even head teachers join other public sector workers in nationwide industrial action. Already Bitterne Park Infant, Bitterne Park Junior, Bitterne Park Secondary, St Denys Primary, Bitterne Manor Primary, Beechwood Junior and Townhill Infant have said they will be closed. A rally will assemble at Hoglands Park at noon.
Click here for the latest information on Southampton school closures.

 Following strike action in June by the NUT, ATL and UCU unions, now head teachers are also set to go on strike over pensions. The action is likely to close schools across England and Wales on November 30.

It’s the first time in the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) 114-year history that its members have voted to strike.“In many ways this is an unhappy milestone,” said Russell Hobby, the union’s general secretary. “I have spoken at length to many school leaders and not one has been anything other than upset and sometimes downright angry that they have been forced into this situation as the only way to stand up for the profession and standards.”

invest in teachers signUnions say the government, while “moving its position and making a new offer” on pensions, is still asking teachers to “pay a lot more and work a lot longer to get a lot less”.

“Half teachers consider quitting”

Members of the NASUWT, which is the largest teaching union and which didn’t take part in the teachers’ strikes in June, have now voted for industrial action over both pensions and other issues in the first national ballot by the union for over a decade.

Over 220,000 took part, and 82% voted for strike action.

“NASUWT members have voted overwhelmingly to reclaim the classroom and their profession in the face of relentless attacks on their working conditions, pensions and jobs,” said Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary. “Teachers have been faced with a rising tide of excessive workload and a series of attacks on their profession, including unjust pension reforms, worsening pay and conditions of service, and increasing job insecurity.

“They have endured months and months of relentless attacks which are taking their toll on morale and motivation. Half of all teachers have considered seriously quitting teaching altogether in the last twelve months.”

NASUWT members have additionally voted for “action short of strike action”, which could start from December, and which is likely to have further significant impact over the coming months.

Responding to the results of the NASUWT ballot on pensions and workload, schools minister Nick Gibb said that: “The Teachers' Pension Scheme will remain one of the best available and is fair to taxpayers and teachers. The current offer means teachers will continue to receive a pension that is better than anything offered to most private sector staff.

“Strikes benefit no one. They damage pupils' education, disrupt parents' lives, and undermine teachers’ professional reputation.”

ATL groupThe NUT however says that the government should carry out a valuation of the scheme – something that it has so far refused to do. Sam Cutler, a teacher from Sholing Technology College (pictured left, centre), who is in the moderate ATL union, told us at the Southampton teachers’ protest in June that: “The teachers’ pension scheme is affordable, and that [the pension proposal] is a tax on teachers of £2.8 billion to go towards paying off the deficit, which is not [teachers’] fault at all.”

Use the audio player to hear a clip of Sam talking about the issue.

“Council at war with its workforce”

Teachers will be joining other public service workers in Southampton, including UNISON and UNITE members who have also voted for industrial action on November 30. “Union members have again rejected the council’s wage cuts,” explained UNISON branch secretary, Mike Tucker. “The vote was influenced by the further 143 redundancies the Conservatives announced in October and the mass privatisation they announced in November. The Conservative controlled council is at war with its workforce as they continue to make them pay for a crisis we did not create. UNISON members will strike on November 30 as part of the ongoing campaign to defend our pay, services and pensions against the austerity programme of the government.”

But Conservative council leader Cllr Royston Smith said the council has to find savings of more than £76 million:

“We are already changing the way we do things, teaming with others to deliver joint services, cutting management costs and continuing to cut bureaucracy. However, our biggest cost is staff and we believe our approach of modest pay cuts for the highest earners is a better way of reducing the pay bill rather than compulsory redundancies.

“We will have to think carefully about what this rejection means. We are a public service and our residents have to come first. We must get all our services back to normal and we will consider all our options for doing so,” he said.


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