School set to be hit by strikes

THURROCK schools are set to be hit be a series of walk-outs after teachers backed strike action in England and Wales over changes to their pensions.

Members of the National Union of Teachers and the Associations of Teachers and Lecturers are expected to walk out first on 30 June reports the BBC.

The unions say the pensions changes will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.

The government insists any changes will be fair and affordable to the nation.

The changes are being made to pensions across the public sector in a bid to save the Treasury millions of pounds.

But with both unions striking, it could mean potentially every school in England and Wales is hit this summer. Lecturers are already walking out and head teachers are on the verge of balloting on industrial action over the same issue.

About 220,000 NUT members were balloted over the pensions changes. Around nine out of 10 (or 92%) of those who voted, backed the strike action with a turn-out of 40%.

And just over half of the ATL’s 160,000 members took part in a separate ballot over changes to the Teacher Pension Scheme – the rest are not members of the scheme.

Some 83% of the ATL members who voted backed the strike action. The turn-out was 35%.

A strike on June 30 would be the first time in the history of the usually moderate ATL that the teachers’ union takes national strike action.

The NUT last held a national strike in 2008.

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “This is a warning shot across the bows to the government.

“When even the least militant education union and teachers working in private schools vote to strike the government would be wrong to ignore it.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the government’s attack on public sector pensions left NUT members with no alternative but to strike.

“It is disgraceful that the government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers’ pensions.

Christine Blower of the NUT: “There is no alternative now…than to move forward with strike action”

“The government knows that they are affordable. This is a policy which has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with politics,” she added.

It will take a formal decision on the strike date on Wednesday.

Lecturers and academics at the UCU lecturers’ union have already time-tabled strike action for 30 June over the same issue.

And the PCS union, representing civil servants, is expected to walk out then too. The results of their ballot are due on Wednesday.

The teachers’ unions are set to prepare for further strike dates in the autumn, should ministers not respond as they wish to their demands.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said the government was committed to working openly and constructively with unions.

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