Thousands of teachers took to the streets of London over the government’s austerity measures that will affect their pensions. Members of National Union of Teachers and University and College Union went on a one-day strike and marched through central London.
“Teachers cannot be expected to do anything other than defend the right to a pension which they have paid into in good faith and which the Government has shown no evidence that they are either unsustainable or unaffordable,” said NUT General Secretary Christine Blower.
“No teacher wants to be in this position. Pension increases are just an extra tax on teachers, when the top rate of tax is being cut. It is the Government’s intransigence and total disregard of the facts that has forced teachers to continue with this action.”
The NUT is the largest teachers’ union in the UK with about 308,000 members. In London, 60 percent of teachers are NUT members. Out of 2,500 schools in the capital, almost two thirds were closed or partially closed as a result of the strike.
Mark Campbell, a national executive member of the UCU, told euronews this is the fourth round of strikes by teachers in the past year. Government plans include increases in pension contributions and raising the retirement age to 68, he said.
“We don’t want to pay more, work for longer only to get less pension at the end,” Campbell said.
Union members are opposing Government plans to make teachers and lecturers pay more and work longer for their pensions and get less in retirement. Next week sees the first stage of a 50 per cent increase in their pension contributions.
UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt said: “UCU members are unlikely militants and would much rather be doing their jobs than taking strike action and losing a day’s pay. However, it is not fair for ordinary people to suffer huge cuts in their standards of living at a time when the Government is handing out huge tax giveaways to big business and high earners.”
The March 28th strike affected 47 colleges and 16 universities in London area, according to the UCU.
Critics slammed the action, saying when the country is in such touch times financially, everybody needs to play their part. Pensions that were sustainable a few years ago may not work now, they argue.