Schools shut as teachers walk out

By Emma Streatfield 



Teachers from Swindon heading to Bristol for the regional demonstration

STRIKING Swindon teachers have refused to rule out further industrial action following their one day action yesterday.

A coach load of teachers from various schools in the town gave up a day’s pay to join other strikers from the south west at a protest in Bristol against the proposed teachers’ pay rise.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) called the strike as members demanded a 4.1 per cent pay rise rather than the 2.45 per cent on offer from the Government.

Peter Smith, secretary of the Swindon division of the National Union of Teachers, said: “We’re looking at the early stages of a generalised public sector fight back against pay cuts.

“The situation is if the NUT calls for another strike we need to ballot for it – that will be a question that involves discussion with our membership.

“I think what came over very quickly at the rally is we’re in some ways at the beginning of the campaign.”

Commonweal teacher Debs Browning, president of the Swindon division of the NUT, said: “It’s not anything to do with my school – my qualm is with the Government and nothing more.”

Swindon‘s striking teachers universally agreed with this.

Gareth Williams, 36, who works at a Swindon secondary school, said: “This campaign is about pay.

“I’m being told I’m going to get less money for doing the same job I was doing last year – in real terms that’s a pay cut.”

Living in Wales, Mr Williams has felt the pressure of the petrol prices more than most.

He said: “Teachers love the job that they do – there is no greater feeling than seeing the children learn, but that feeling doesn’t pay for the food and taxes.”

Although pay is their main complaint, teachers are also frustrated by a lack of funding and increasing targets and paperwork.

Teachers said that though some graduates may get their student loans paid, this depends on the subject, which means many teachers are starting out in debt.

The lack of reward once people get a job means there are many young teachers who are leaving the profession.

Teresa Martin, 53, a design and technology teacher at Crowdys Hill School, has been in the profession for 32 years and remembers the last strikes in the 1980s.

“I like teaching and I like working with the children, but I believe my pay should keep in line with inflation,” she said.

“It’s very hard for schools to recruit good qualified teachers.

“If they are desperate for teachers why don’t they wipe away their student grants they have got to pay back.”

Sixteen Swindon schools were closed as a result of yesterday’s strike action, while a further 15 were partially closed.

The strikes did not just affect schools in the town.

Swindon College was also forced to close its doors, although New College remained open, as the members of the University and College Union also took strike action.

 From the Swindon Advertiser


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