Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Biggest Day of Action in Decades

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Biggest Day of Action in Decades

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly Social Affairs Correspondent

HUNDREDS of schools are to close and council services will be hit on one of the biggest days of industrial action in a generation tomorrow.

It will involve thousands of North East teachers, firefighters, health workers, council staff and civil servants, who will join up to two million colleagues nationwide in a 24-hour walk-out in a protest over pay, pensions and work conditions.

Bin collections will be suspended, council buildings, including libraries, will be closed, even burials and cremations in some areas will be stopped. Perhaps the most controversial will be the sweeping closure of schools.

The region's local authorities are still assessing exactly how many won't open for the day, but it looks like the majority will be shut.

Mike McDonald, regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which has 20,000 members in the region, said: "Teachers are extremely reluctant to strike because of the impact on children's education.

"However, they feel that this current Government's attacks on education will cause far more damage.

"Morale in the profession is at rock bottom - teachers are wasting hours on pointless paperwork and scores are quitting in their first years because of unmanageable workload, uncertain pay and worsening pensions.

"Children deserve teachers who are motivated, enthused and valued. Education secretary Michael Gove would do well to engage properly with the profession and address teachers' concerns to end this dispute.

"For teachers, performance-related pay, working until 68 for a full pension and heavy workload for 60 hours a week is unsustainable."

In Newcastle, the Grainger Market will close. Leisure and health centres and libraries face widespread closures, while bin collections will be suspended. …

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