‘GOVE must go!’ was the common chant of tens of thousands of teachers taking part in a second series of joint NUT-NASUWT regional strikes yesterday over pay, pensions, job cuts and increased workload.
NUT and NASUWT members were out solid in the North East, Cumbria, London, South East and South West regions.
There were militant marches and rallies in Durham, Bristol and a 15,000-strong South East Region march and rally in central London, with delegations from Surrey, Kent and Buckinghamshire as well as London schools.
Many teachers called for national strike action by all trade unions against the government’s attacks.
On the picket line at Ackland Burghley comprehensive school, north London, NUT member Paul Bernard told News Line: ‘I’m on strike because of the government’s attacks on the pay and conditions, not just of teachers but all workers, both public and private.
‘All unions should take action against the government’s attacks.’
Fellow NUT member Siobhan Owen said: ‘The action is necessary because in 20 years of teaching I have never seen so many staff demoralised.
‘I agree there should be united action by all public sector unions against the government’s attacks on many aspects of the public sector.’
NUT general secretary Christine Blower told the packed London rally, held in the Emmanuel Centre just yards from the Department for Education: ‘We’ve had messages of support from all over the country and other unions.
‘Government policies are bad for teachers and young people. Gove’s disregard of evidence is breathtaking.
‘There is a major crisis in school places, but deregulation is taking away the ability of local authorities to help.
‘Children are the losers,’ she said, adding: ‘Too many children are coming to school tired and hungry, living in fear of not having a roof over their heads because of the bedroom tax.’
She said: ‘The dispute is about a pay cut in real terms: paying more, working longer to get less, and deregulation of our conditions.’
‘Under performance pay there would be no guarantee of teachers going forward beyond starting salary. If you pay some teachers more, others will get less.
‘Increased workload makes no improvement in standards. This campaign is about privatisation – we cannot let it go.’
NASUWT national officer Suzanne Nanturvis told the rally: ‘We’ve had enough of the myths and downright lies, the denigration of teachers and the attacks on our pay and conditions.
‘We’ve had enough of government policies that are stifling the education of our children.
‘The government wants children to be taught by an unqualified teacher. We have to end a management culture of fear.
‘Gove’s pious statements about paying teachers more, we all know, is about paying teachers less.
‘Gove is now making plans to take away our contractual conditions.
‘Pay and conditions of service are inextricably linked to quality of education. We will not be deterred.’
TUC assistant general secretary Paul Nowak brought ‘the unqualified support for all of you who are on strike today’.
Nanturvis added at the end of the rally: ‘Today’s strikes are the responsibility of Michael Gove.
‘Damage is being done to education by the policies of an autocratic government. We’re in this for the duration.’