Teachers’ protest over pension deal

Members of the NUT and other unions hold a rally in St John's Square as part of a strike over pensions
Members of the NUT and other unions hold a rally in St John's Square as part of a strike over pensions

TEACHERS from across the Fylde coast took to the streets to demand a fair deal on pensions.

Dozens of schools closed their doors for the day as negotiations with the Government over cuts to staff pensions broke down.

All Blackpool high schools and many primaries closed as teachers took part in action led by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

Protests involving Fylde coast teachers were held in Preston and Lancaster, but a number of educators made their voices heard at St John’s Square, Blackpool.

Attending the resort rally, Ken Cridland, from Lancashire NUT, said: “We are very pleased with the support we’ve had.

“We want a proper negotiation on the pension figures and that doesn’t seem an unreasonable demand.”

Under the Government’s proposals, teachers could be forced to work until they are 68, an issue which many teachers do not agree with.

Tiernan Graber, an engineering and computing lecturer at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “The strike has raised awareness of the real issues.

“Working well into your 60s is a problem for anyone in this profession because you need to be able to deal with the children.”

Blackpool teacher Sarah Jones added: “This is a desperate thing to do, but the Government has seen an opportunity to cut pensions and that isn’t right.”

Elsewhere across the country, a wave of other public sector professions took to the streets to fight against the cuts.

There was disruption at Preston Crown Court where many benches remained closed while members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) picketed outside over pensions. Borders Agency staff also went out but bosses at Blackpool Airport said they were unaffected.

In Warton, workers gathered outside the Land Registry office but bosses said the service remained open with minimal effect.

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn has already come out in support of the strikers bid to protect their pensions.

The head of the opposition Tory group Coun Peter Evans said: “The action has caused a lot of disruption for people and generally I don’t think strike action achieves much.”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden added: “The Government has exacerbated the situation appallingly by the way they have talked about what they want to do while negotiations are still continuing.”

Fleetwood High School headteacher Steve Roe said he feared a teaching timebomb if the dispute was not settled. He said: “Negotiations are taking place but I am apprehensive about the future unless something is negotiated with teaching associations. It’s a timebomb waiting to go off.”

He added that the high school, which remained open yesterday, was able to function because only five teachers out of a staff of more than 60 were missing as their union was not involved in the action.