Friday, 18 November 2011

H&F Schools to shut in strike

Christine Blower - NUT
Schools across H&F will be closing their doors on Wednesday 30th November due to strike action having been called by the teaching unions.

I, like many other parents across the borough, received a letter from the headteacher of our kids’ school this afternoon saying basically that they had no choice but to close.

Interestingly the headteacher didn’t confirm whether or not they themselves would be going on strike, just that there were health & safety concerns. Hm.

So there we have it folks – those struggling to get by in the rapidly shrinking private sector, those looking over their own shoulders in the public sector and others who are either without work or self-employed will have to take a day out so that the teachers can strike about their pensions not being big enough.

Here’s Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, speaking to the BBC in June ahead of the strike vote:
"It is disgraceful that the government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers' pensions.

"The government knows that they are affordable. This is a policy which has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with politics.”
So pay up Government, so that the rest of us without good public sector pensions can get back to work, or looking for work.


  1. "So pay up Government, so that the rest of us without good public sector pensions can get back to work, or looking for work" That's the whole point just there... they have good pensions because they have worked hard (or will have by retirement age) and have contributed to them all of their working lives. Now the government want to go back on an arrangement and force public workers to pay more, work longer, receive less and pay more in. I don't know about you but, to me, that seems grossly unfair. It is not the fault of the public workers that you (& me) don't have a very good pension. But it is thanks to public workers that a lot of useful jobs get done day in day out.. and we should be grateful for that. It is also thanks to unions that people like you and me have decent working conditions. This is just another example of this governments tactic of divide and rule... "I don't have a nice pension to look forward to so why should anyone else!"
    This government is attacking the very things that we should hold dear: the NHS; state education; the welfare state; libraries; childcare; the arts ... If anyone is standing up to defend us all from these attacks, I am happy to take a day off work to take my children and support these people who are the lifeblood of our country.

  2. Well put Lennie. Couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. Quite right. This government has portrayed the public sector as the 'enemy within'. If private sector workers were better unionised they'd have decent pensions too. They have no one to blame but themselves (and their employers who use union-busters to exclude unions from the workplace).

  4. Any head teacher who goes on strike about this is not worthy of the privileged position they hold.

    Pay up government? So retired head teachers can have two cars in retirement?

    Head teachers have responsible jobs, but they are very well paid.

    You compare it with the private sector. No private school headteacher would strike.

    That is the difference in a nutshell. That's why state educated kids are at a disadvantage. Their teachers are jobsworths, not professionals.

  5. Derek... the heads in 'private' schools are not having their pensions stolen by this government. The head at my son's school has been a head at the same school for over 25 years... Quite professional I think. He has never been on strike until now... A measure of just how strongly people feel about this issue.

  6. I think one of the main reasons a private sector head teacher would not strike is that they would likely be sacked if they did. As they are less likely to be unionised their public sector brethren I think this speaks volumes as to the importance of getting a good union behind you. Look at the tube drivers. Bob Crow may at times be the most hated man in London, but you can't fault the effectiveness of the RMT.

  7. But heads in private schools just like everyone else working in the private sector are having their pensions cut by huge amounts.

    My pension has been reduced by 30% so I can't retire. On top of that these well paid people expect me to pay for their generous public sector pensions to remain untouched out of my shrinking wages. That is just not right, and I'm in one of the largest unions that is backing public sector workers at my expense.

  8. In fact, interestingly enough, quite a few teachers in the private sector were members of the public sector teacher's pension scheme. And, far from being treated with kid gloves, they are being unceremoniously booted out of said scheme, which seems a rather harsher treatment than that received by public sector teachers. Of course, there is little point in the private teachers striking, since they can't exert any pressure on the government!

  9. A couple of facts might help the discussion.

    1) This year teachers will be taking home less pay by the end of the academic year than they were taking home at the beginning. And further tranches (called contributions) will be taken out in 2013 and 2014. Whether you think this is fair or not it will be unmanageable for many London teachers. So they will leave teaching, (not good for schools), leave London (not good for London schools) or leave the Pension scheme (not good for them or for society which will have impoverished retirees to deal with in the future).
    2) The Government has produced no figures to back up their claims about the pension scheme being unaffordable or too costly. Their proposals do show, however, that they intend to cut the employer contribution (which is part of the cost of employing a teacher or other employee)by so much that less money will be going into the pension pot than now. How can this be?
    3) Since the scheme started in 1923 the unions have negotiated at five yearly intervals with the employers using independent assessments of the costs and actuarial data. This Government cancelled the one due in 2011 and the Treasury took over negotiations.
    4) Most years more is paid into the Pension fund than is paid out. At current values £43billion more has been paid in since the scheme started than has been paid out. Some of that might have funded WW2 but where has the rest gone?
    5) The people who run the private sector from the CBI downwards have terribly failed their staff over pensions. Those in the private sector either negotiated to no avail, fought and lost or did nothing whilst their pensions went down. What should the rest of us learn from that?
    6) As for the NUT our campaign is summed up as "Fair Pensions for All".

    One last point about the inconvenience. I am sure it is and I know what people have to put up with but why is it that closures for the Royal Wedding and the Queens Jubilee are OK and never inconvenient but an occasional strike brings the world down around our ears?