Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Does Thursday Mark a Start of Summer Strikes? Teachers across the North East Will Walk out on Strike on Thursday in the First of What's Feared Could Become a Series of Strikes This Summer. MICHAEL BROWN Reports

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Does Thursday Mark a Start of Summer Strikes? Teachers across the North East Will Walk out on Strike on Thursday in the First of What's Feared Could Become a Series of Strikes This Summer. MICHAEL BROWN Reports

Article excerpt

SCHOOLS will close on Thursday in the first of what could become a summer of strikes.

The "day of discontent" is just the opening salvo in what could be months of disruption for the UK, with one union baron comparing the situation to the miners' strike of 1984.

As well as schools, some staff at some government agencies and university lecturers are refusing to work on Thursday. And future strikes by airline pilots, train drivers and possibly even firemen could prolong the chaos.

Ian Grayson, a teacher at Newcastle's Kenton School and the North East representative for the National Union of Teachers apologised to parents and pupils for the inconvenience but hoped they would understand why they were necessary. "With both NUT and ATL members walking out it means up to 60% of teachers in the North East will be on strike," he said.

"And even colleagues who are not in the union support the action because the proposed changes to pensions affect everyone.

"Michael Gove's letter to headteachers the other day encouraged headteachers to keep schools open, but I don't think they'll be fooled.

"All of us know times are hard but teachers have faced a two-year pay freeze and only in 2007 agreed changes to their pensions which will save the Government more than pounds 1bn per year for the next 50 years.

"And the Public Accounts Committee say teachers pensions are fair and affordable.

"Heads understand teachers have the right to go on strike and I've been contacted by union reps from around the area to say a large number of schools will be closed."

Lawson Armstrong, senior regional officer of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said he was "frustrated" that after months of talks with ministers, the government looked determined to go ahead with its plans to make teachers "pay more, work longer and get less". …

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