TEACHERS took mass strike action yesterday in four large regions of the country, the Eastern region, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside.
They came out against the Tory government’s attacks on teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions, and over job cuts.
There were big marches and rallies in Birmingham, Cambridge, Sheffield and Norwich.
Over 2,500 teachers and supporters from across Yorkshire and the North Midlands marched through Sheffield.
Joint strikes from NUT and NASUWT members won huge support with schools closed and large turnouts on early morning pickets.
At the start of the march, the big crowd was told by leading PCS civil servants union member Martin John: ‘You have been suffering wage restraint for four to five years, so have we.
‘You have a government Minister, in your case Michael Gove, in our case Francis Maude, who expresses contempt for you on a daily basis.
‘I look forward to striking together with you because I believe that we are in the same fight.’
Afterwards, a mass rally of strikers at Ponds Forge Sports Centre was told by NUT General Secretary Christine Blower: ‘The fact is that education policy, across the piece, is failing teachers, failing parents and failing children.
‘Education Secretary Michael Gove’s disregard of the evidence is frankly breathtaking.
‘Privatisation is at such a pitch that there are no school places for children in parts of London and many other places.
‘Local Authorities can no longer open schools where they are needed thanks to Michael Gove agreeing to academy and free schools over the heads of local communities.’
Going on to attack the policy of recruiting unqualified teachers in schools, she emphasised: ‘His definition of teaching as a craft that you can learn from watching someone doing it passable well is insulting.’
Holding up newspaper headlines that also attacked Gove she stressed: ‘We are not the people who are the enemies of promise – they are!
‘The man has no idea what life is like for real people. Does anyone believe that teachers’ workload will improve by teachers teaching for longer hours? Rubbish!’
Earlier on the picket line at Longley Sixth Form College, NUT rep Duncan Blackie told News Line: ‘It is very encouraging, a very good strike today. NUT and NASUWT members are supporting the strike, and we expect there won’t be any classes here today at all.
‘We want to send a message to Michael Gove to get his dirty little hands off the education system.
‘Hopefully we want to have a national strike before Christmas and keep taking action until they start to negotiate seriously.
‘They are not discussing changes to pay at all, they are dismantling the national pay structure which is what the issue is.
‘It is happening already,’ he emphasised, pointing to the fact that both schools and local Education Authorities are having to introduce ad hoc pay structures.
‘Within the new structures headteachers have got leeway not to give pay rises to individuals.
‘What we have been trying to establish locally are union guide-lines for that and a national agreement on it.’