HUNDREDS of thousands of teachers could be set to strike this summer in a bid to stop pension reforms which unions claim will force school staff to “work longer, pay more and get less.”
Leaders of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have warned that its industrial action before the end of this term would mark the start of a wave of strikes over planned changes to public sector pensions.
The NUT’s annual conference, in Harrogate passed a motion calling for a strike ballot in a bid to protect the Teachers Pension Scheme. Some delegates also called for teachers to lead a 24-hour general strike of public sector workers against the coalition spending cuts .
It comes as another major teaching, the NASUWT, passed a resolution saying its members had no confidence in the Government’s school reforms and suggested Education Secretary Michael Gove will be removed from his post.
The NASUWT has not yet, however, balloted its members on a strike over pensions.
If NUT members vote for a walkout, the first would take place before the end of the summer term with the option of further strikes at the start of the next academic year.
It follows the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voting to ballot their members for a strike over pensions last week. If this goes ahead it will be the first national strike in ATL’s history.
ATL members are expected to ballot around 80,000 members, while the NUT could ask up to 300,000 to vote and the two unions plan to co-ordinate their actions.
The NUT’s general secretary Christine Blower said: “Our conference sent a clear message to Government that teachers will not stand by as their pensions are eroded. The support for this motion, together with the similar motion passed by ATL conference, demonstrates the strength of feeling across the profession against the Government’s plans.”
Teaching unions are angry about plans to increase the amount they pay into pensions, a potential increase retirement age up to 68 and the switch from linking pensions from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index.
The NASUWT’s general secretary, Christine Blower, also attacked Mr Gove. “Now at the NASUWT we don’t like to give up on anybody but I am afraid state education is just not right for Michael,” she said. “I think a managed move might be on the cards.”
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