Teaching union: ‘Gove is worse than Thatcher’

Teachers Strike rally outside of the City hall .
Teachers Strike rally outside of the City hall .

Schools across South Yorkshire will be forced to shut next month as the country’s two largest teaching unions stage a joint one-day strike.

Action will be taken by the NUT and the NASUWT throughout the Yorkshire region on Tuesday, October 1.

The unions have been angered by Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove’s refusal to enter into negotiations over a series of planned changes to pay, pensions and working conditions.

The strike is part of a rolling programme of stoppages taking place around the country.

Plans are also in place for a one day national strike before the end of the autumn term.

Sheffield teacher Paul DesGranges, who is on the NASUWT’s national executive, said members were sick of Mr Gove’s bid to ‘out-Thatcher Thatcher’.

“He’s bringing in sweeping changes without any consultation, changes which even Mrs Thatcher would never have contemplated,” he said.

“Teachers are annoyed and angered that national pay frameworks are being scrapped, leaving heads and governors to decide what teachers should receive.

“Our pension scheme is said to be unaffordable but we’ve seen no evidence to prove that and Mr Gove wants to increase our retirement age to 68. There’s serious concern about the future status of the profession when the Secretary of State refuses to even enter discussions with the general secretaries of unions which represent nine out of 10 teachers.”

A rally will be held in Sheffield on October 1 which is also set to include protests from parents and governors.

Mr DesGranges said: “Many parents are concerned about the impact of these policies on their children’s education, particularly parents of children with special needs, while many governors simply don’t want the responsibility of deciding who will get a rise and who will not.”

Ian Stevenson, the Doncaster-based regional secretary of the NUT, said: “This is essentially a national dispute over conditions of service, pay and cuts to pensions.

“We will be calling on all our members in the region to support this action and fully expect the majority of schools in Doncaster to be affected by full or partial closures on October 1.”

However, Mr Gove said teaching had never been more attractive, popular or rewarding. He said he would meet unions, but accused leaders of pursuing strike action for ‘ideological reasons’.

“Teachers have better pensions than the majority in the public and private sectors,” he said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is disappointing the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the Government’s measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more. In a recent poll, 61 per cent of respondents supported linking teachers’ pay to performance and 70 per cent either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all.”