After Wednesday’s strike action in London the National Union of Teacher’s plans to continue the campaign to protect their pensions by staging a new round of walkouts next term. They hope to be joined by many other unions in a show of solidarity.
At the NUT’s annual conference next month, activists will discuss plans for a proposed escalation of their action, claiming that the Government’s pension reforms will leave teachers working longer, paying more and receiving less when they retire.
The strike saw about 6,500 union members marching through central London to protest vociferously outside the Department for Education. They successfully caused the closure of about a fifth of the capital’s schools for the day with reduced services at around 40% of them.
The general secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, explained the need for further protests by stating that the fight went beyond simply their own retirement funds and that they were fighting for state pensions as a whole. She called it a disgrace that the UK has one of the poorest state pensions in Europe.
The Schools Minister Nick Gibb rejected the union’s assessment of state pensions and was adamant that the way forward was further talks instead of more industrial action:
“Strikes benefit no one. This deal is as good as it gets and takes the right balance – guaranteeing teachers one of the best pensions available but keeping a lid on rising costs for the taxpayer.
“We’ve been in serious talks for months with unions to address their concerns and reach a final settlement. This strike, ordered by the NUT’s leaders, will not get its members any further forward.”
Wednesday’s strike forced thousands of parents to take time off work or make expensive alternate childcare provisions and each strike is likely to reduce the sympathy felt towards teachers by these parents.