HUNDREDS of thousands of teachers, members of the NUT, took strike action yesterday in defence of jobs, pay and their pensions.
In London more than 11,000 teachers marched to Central Hall where they held a big rally. ‘GOVE Out!’ shouted the striking teachers.
Hounslow NUT Branch Secretary and NUT NEC member Marilyn Bater told News Line: ‘I’m standing up for education and for teachers.
‘68 is too late to retire and primary teachers working 60+ hours a week is unacceptable. These are my two major concerns. The pensions changes and performance-pay are not good either.
‘Hopefully this will make Michael Gove come and talk to us, I’m always optimistic and hopeful, you have to be as a teacher. We’ve got our Annual Conference at Easter and we will decide there the next stage of the campaign.
‘It’s possible there will be more industrial action. I’m not in favour of this government, I don’t like what they’ve done. Gove is not a popular man, not just with teachers, parents aren’t very fond of him either.’
Another NEC member, Barking and Dagenham NUT Branch Secretary, Dominic Byrne said: ‘The members have shown today by taking industrial action they are upset about the way things are going.
‘They are upset about their pay, pensions, workload and the fact that they as professionals are not being listened to. Morale is at an all-time low and two out of five teachers are leaving after the first five years.
‘If need be there will have to be more action. Hopefully they will negotiate, but if they won’t listen to us there will have to be more action.’
Helena Aksentijevic, NUT Rep for Parliament Hill School in Camden explained: ‘The reason we are striking is for better pay for teachers.
‘The government has just done a workload survey and they’ve worked out that since the Conservatives came in teachers are working another seven hours a week. Primary teachers are working 60 hours a week and secondary teachers 56 a week.
‘The second thing is Gove wants teachers to work until they are 68 – that clearly is not viable. And he has not attended any meeting with the union at all – he has just sent his minnions. Even though the School Teachers Review Body have rejected all of his demands, Gove is still refusing to engage in meaningful talks with the union.
‘Teachers are striking against performance-related pay, they should not be measured entirely by the academic success of their students. Student success can be measured in other ways.
‘We are also striking for pay portability. Gove wants to stop that so if you go to work in a different school in a different area, the head can work out how much they want to pay each teacher. My pay has gone down. I’ve got less in my pay packet now than I had five years ago.
‘The government has to listen to what teachers and educationalists are telling them. If they don’t there should be more strike action. Hopefully more joint action with the other unions. I’m for a general strike to bring this government down.’
Fiona, an NUT rep from Camden, added: ‘I’m striking because of the constant erosion of our conditions of service, pensions and pay. I’m opposed to the massive changes that are being made to education in England and Wales, which are to the detriment of our children’s education.
‘There is a massive expansion of Academies and Free Schools and the centralisation of decision-making with everything being taken away from local authorities. My other main concern is the changes to the curriculum which are driven by political ends and not educational ends.
‘We have to do everything in our power to win, including strike action when necessary.’
• Over one hundred schools in Cambridgeshire were wholly closed or severely affected.
Five hundred teachers from Cambridge and the east of England, joined by school children and students, marched through the centre of Cambridge.
• A big crowd of teachers from the NUT and some parents assembled at the forum in the centre of Norwich.
The first speaker was Helen McGuinness, NUT Secretary in Norwich.
She said that she was so upset that teachers now in her own high school are not sorry to leave, because education is no longer child centred.
She said Gove did not want education to be ‘life changing’. Gove’s view ‘does not fit with working class kids’ education encouraging problem solving and creativity.’
She slammed performance related pay. ‘This could mean that certain test results could make a difference as to whether a teacher can pay for a mortgage or not.’
She said: ‘Gove is reforming education at break neck speed and leaving no stone untouched. Its academies and free schools. It’s the curriculum. Its terms and conditions.’