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Teachers set to strike again before Christmas
12:23pm Thursday 31st October 2013 in News
A UNION leader claims about 3,000 Somerset teachers went on strike almost two weeks ago and there could be another walkout before Christmas.
While only a handful of schools were totally closed in the Chard, Ilminster and Crewkerne areas, Robin Head says the South-West day of action was a success.
Mr Head, the NUT’s divisional secretary for Somerset, said: “It was well supported and we managed to get the message across to the public.
“We apologise to parents inconvenienced by having to source child care or take the day off work, but teachers are being forced into this situation – they’re not going on strike out of choice.”
The action, part of a rolling programme of regional strikes, was called by the NUT and NASUWT unions in protest at the Government’s terms, conditions, pay and pensions for teachers, as well as changes to the national curriculum and increased workload they claim that entails.
Mr Head admitted that a number of NUT members broke the strike. “Some felt it wasn’t for them,” he said.
“Small rural schools find it difficult to strike because they are very localised in small villages serving the community with few teachers in each school.
“Teachers at one school in West Somerset felt unable to go on strike, though they felt they needed to put the argument to parents, which they did in a letter, but about 3,000 teachers across Somerset went on strike and 95% of the large secondary schools were totally closed or partially open.”
Mr Head said the unions are discussing whether to call a national strike before Christmas.
He said: “Michael Gove [the Education Secretary] has held no meaningful negotiations – he won’t discuss the concerns of the teachers.
“Teachers aren’t striking for the sake of it. It’s about building a campaign against the damage the Government is doing to education.”
Mr Gove says the present generation of teachers is “the best ever”, but he accuses the unions of “standing in the way of progress”.
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