Monday 21 November 2011

Most Brent schools will be closed by pensions strike on November 30th

Most schools in Brent will be closed on November 30th as staff from the teacher, headteacher and support staff unions show their anger at the Government's plans to make them pay more, work longer and get less in their pension. The National Association of Headteachers has voted overwhelmingly to strike alongside the other teachers and lecturer unions ATL, NASUWT, NUT and UCU as well as the support staff unions UNISON and GMB.

On visits to schools around the borough staff have raised concerns with union representatives s, not only about their own pensions,  but how the Government’s proposals will put off young graduates from entering teaching. Already those young teachers with large loans to pay back are thinking twice about staying in the teaching profession if their contributions rise by 50%.

But the idea that teachers will not be able to retire on a full pension until they are 68 is the one that causes the most disbelief and anger.

Jean Roberts, Joint BTA Secretary said, “Everyone knows that teaching is a stressful and demanding job, one that requires a great degree of stamina particularly with younger children. Do parents want their children educated by 68 year olds? This proposal for a start shows that the Government have no idea of the realities of teaching today.”

Shane Johnschwager, NASUWT secretary said, “Teaching is a hard job that no one ever gets rich doing. A good pension has always been part of the deal and all Brent teachers are asking for is a dignified retirement. We are sure that Brent parents recognise how hard their children's teachers work. The Government wants us to pay more, teach until 68 years of age, and receive less. Can anyone see the logic of this? Striking is a last resort. We feel we have been left with no choice.”

Hank Roberts, ATL Secretary added, “ The bankers and financiers, with the Government aiding and abetting them, nearly bankrupted the country. We, the taxpayers, were forced to bail them out and now they are trying to make us, who did not cause the crisis, pay. George Osborne had said our pensions are being made worse and we have to pay more to pay off the deficit. We are not going to. We are fighting for a fair pension for teachers and a fair pension for all.”

On 30th November the joint unions are holding a rally at 9.30 am outside The Torch pub in Wembley Park (Bridge Road, opposite the ARK Academy and close to Wembley Park station). Speakers include Mary Bousted, ATL General Secretary and Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary who have made a special effort to attend before leading the march of thousands of education workers which will be held in central London.

As a school governor, retired teacher and NUT member I am strongly in favour of this strike for all the reasons stated above. Our teachers and our children deserve much better than the treatment they are receiving from the Coalition government. Most public sector pensions are not enormous, despite what the Tories say, and of course mean that such workers do not have to have recourse to pension credit and other benefits.

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