GOVE MUST GO! – call a general strike! say angry teachers

15,000 teachers marched to a rally in Westminster on Thursday
15,000 teachers marched to a rally in Westminster on Thursday

‘GOVE must go!’ shouted angry striking teachers on a 15,000-strong march through central London to rally in Westminster on Thursday.

They were taking part in a second series of joint NUT-NASUWT regional strikes over pay, pensions, job cuts and increased workload.

NUT and NASUWT members were out solid in North East, Cumbria, London, South East and South West regions.

There were militant marches and rallies in Durham, Bristol, as well as smaller events in Brighton, Carlisle and Plymouth

The 15,000-strong South East Region march and rally in central London had delegations from Surrey, Kent and Buckinghamshire as well as London schools.

The front banner carried the slogan ‘Protecting Teachers, Defending Education’.

Many teachers called for national strike action by all trade unions against the government’s attacks.

News Line spoke to some of the strikers before the march moved off.

Folkstone NASUWT member Fiona Cabache said: ‘It needs to be all out.

‘We need a national strike across the public sector, every single worker in the private sector who is on zero-hours contracts with no pension contributions, no sick pay.

‘You’ve got nurses, care workers on low pay.

‘The MPs don’t have to wait till they are 68 till they get their pension.

‘Teachers can’t work till they are 68.

‘It’s wrong to impose something like that.

‘The TUC should call a general strike and encourage all workers to come out.’

Regent High School, Camden, NUT member Alison Daly, said: ‘I’m here protesting and campaigning with all my comrades against job cuts, cuts in pay and conditions and pensions.

‘We’re all being worked like dogs.

‘There should be a massive national campaign of strike action by all the unions to stop the railroading of all these changes.

Newham NUT member Dave Bastian told News Line: ‘I’m striking in support of colleagues to fight for what I believe in.

‘I disagree with the stance being taken by the government.

‘I disagree with the changes taking place.

‘I’m most worried about safeguarding our pensions, and working longer hours, with the strain and pressure people are feeling.

‘I agree with the firefighters. There needs to be united action across the public sector.

‘The TUC should call a general strike.’

NUT member Alison Mure from Simon Manning School, Ladbroke Grove, west London, said: ‘I’m a new teacher, I qualified last year.

‘We’re all here to help the youth of today.

‘But we are being penalised for the hard work that we do.

‘We are expected to work to an outstanding level, more hours, more of our lives and for less money.

‘It will make more people leave the profession and put young people off from becoming teachers.

‘The strike is a visible friendly demonstration.

‘We have to keep taking action until we win.’

Lambeth NUT member, Toby Cadoux from Dunraven School, Streatham, added: ‘This strike is about protecting teachers, defending education.

‘It’s about the crisis that’s going to be caused in education unless things get better.

‘Workloads are crazy and it’s getting worse.

‘We’re expected to work till we’re 68 now, and we pay more out.

‘My pay was higher in 2010 than it is today.

‘Teachers’ salaries in real terms are down 15 per cent in the last four years.

‘The strike is about pay, pensions, and working conditions which are making things much more difficult.

‘The TUC have voted to take national action but they’ve never called for it.

‘They need to call a general strike.

‘We need Unison, Unite and the GMB, all the big unions, to get on with it.’

Chalgrove School, Barnet, NUT member Elisa Kogawa said: ‘I’m on strike partly to do with the curriculum, as well as changes in terms and conditions and changes to staffing management in schools.

‘We might lose our support staff and (education secretary) Gove wants to take away our planning time.

‘He’s misunderstood the nature of school staff.

‘It’s a team, you can’t have a management style with performance-related pay.

‘You cannot compare teachers at many levels.

‘What gove is proposing would destroy teamwork, which is what I feel strongly about, because he wants to increase competition.’

NASUWT member Chloe Doherty told the central London rally: ‘I’m a teacher, I’m a parent, I’m a governor and I work hard for my community.

‘The school staff work hard, the TAs (teaching assistants) work hard and the parents work hard but the government doesn’t seem to know that.

‘Education is about making a better world, it’s not about results.

‘I wonder any young person wants to enter the profession.

‘We’re looking at a future where there’s no prospect of getting a pay increase.’

Slamming continual assessments, she added: ‘Gove is sapping the joy out of the classroom.

‘The press seem to completely ignore us. The myth that education is being dummed down is perpetuated by the media – we’re fed up.

‘We’re improving standards every day for every single child, they are not a set of data to be marked.

‘It’s a fancy that things were better in the past.

‘I want my children to have a broad and balanced curriculum.’

She concluded: ‘My students are proud that I’m standing up for my rights.

‘When you devalue teachers you devalue education.

‘We are right to defend our terms and conditions.

‘Education is under attack. The government and media need to wake up because we are not going to stop.’

Jaspreet Mann of the NUT told the rally: ‘We cannot put up with the ever-changing conditions by the government and the erosion of our pensions.

‘I call Gove the enemy of progress because he is attempting to turn our schools into profit-making businesses.’

She added: ‘Mr gove fails to recognise he is bringing teachers together as we see today.

‘Students are fed up with being told exams are too easy, instead of their hard work and ours being recognised.

‘Schools shouldn’t be in competition with each other, we will never accept this.’