School’s out: No lessons as teachers go on strike

Tony Souter (Divisional Secretary of Warwickshire N.U.T. offers an apple.
Tony Souter (Divisional Secretary of Warwickshire N.U.T. offers an apple.

ONLY a handful of schools across Warwickshire were open for classes yesterday (Thursday) as teachers took part in a national strike in protest of changes to their pensions.

Teachers left their classrooms and a number gathered in Market Place, Warwick, where they handed out apples to passers-by and attempted to rally support for their industrial action, while parents all over the county were forced to make alternative childcare arrangements.

Meanwhile the disruptions extended further to jobcentres, courts, tax offices and many other public services as other workers in the sector joined in the day of protest.

Speaking to the Courier ahead of the strike, Maxine Hyde, divisional secretary for Warwickshire’s branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Our frustration is with the Government and its disgraceful behaviour and it will be felt throughout England and Wales.

“We are very clear that it’s not a fight against Warwickshire County Council – it’s a fight to get the Government to negotiate.”

As well as the NUT, members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers - who have never before been on strike - and the Public and Commercial Sectors Union took part in the industrial action after talks with the Government earlier this week failed to prevent it taking place.

More than 100 schools in Warwickshire had announced, in the week leading to yesterday’s strike, that they were due to be fully or partially closed for the day.

Speaking on Wednesday, Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White said: “People want their children to be able to go to school. Somebody has got to look after these children when the teachers are striking so all these parents will have to make arrangements.

“We do have a pensions problem. It’s something that needs to be addressed. We all recognise that people are living longer and the situation is not sustainable.

“The strike is premature because discussions about pensions are still ongoing. All parties are being consulted with and need to understand what the impact will be.”