1,500 on strike march, 183 schools closed - then one jobless brickie asks: ‘What about me?’

A member of the public voices his disagreement with public sector cuts protestors before being lead away by police.
A member of the public voices his disagreement with public sector cuts protestors before being lead away by police.

THIS is the moment a jobless Sheffield bricklayer took on 1,500 striking workers - and told them exactly what he thought of them.

Teachers and civil servants marched through Sheffield - forcing 183 South Yorkshire schools to close for the day and thousands of pupils to stay at home.

Charles Cartwright, pictured right, confronted the marchers and said: “I’ve had just two weeks of work this year and you lot are striking over your pensions.”

The brickie was loudly booed as he challenged the protesters at a rally in Barker’s Pool.

The 31-year-old, from Sharrow, said: “It makes me sick, I would kill for a job. Your pensions are costing the country millions and you want more!”

Teaching and public sector unions have accused the Government of shifting the goalposts on pension reform, and estimate the changes will cost each worker hundreds of thousands of pounds over their lifetimes.

Police described the demonstration as a good natured affair, with many of the 75 officers mobilised through the day stood down early and not a single arrest made.

More than two-thirds of Sheffield schools were hit by industrial action as the biggest strike called by teachers for many years had a major impact.

Over 120 of the city’s 169 schools had empty classrooms with 17 shut altogether, as NUT and ATL members walked out in protest against changes to their pension plans.

Schools in Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster were harder hit, with over 150 closures and 75 more sending classes and year groups home.

A total of 183 primary, secondary and special schools were closed across South Yorkshire.

In Sheffield the impact of the strike varied according to the number of mainly NUT members working in individual schools.

At Bradfield Secondary headteacher David Conway said he had decided to close as his teachers were overwhelmingly NUT members.

“It was an easy decision to make. Around 30 people stayed away while only a tiny number of NUT members decided to come in as normal,” he said.

“We did know in advance what the situation was going to be and that meant we were able to give parents plenty of notice so they could make alternative arrangements.”

Headteachers across the city reported widespread support for the strike from parents and said they understood why teachers felt they had to take action.