Teachers confirm 30 June as strike day

teacher Teachers say the planned pension changes will hit their pockets hard

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Teachers' unions in England and Wales which voted for strike action to protect their pensions have confirmed a co-ordinated walk-out on 30 June.

The strike by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) will disrupt thousands of schools.

ATL president, Andy Brown, announced the union's first national strike with "deep reluctance".

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude accused unions of "jumping the gun".

Following the ballot result on Tuesday backing strike action, the leaderships of the two unions confirmed plans for a one-day strike this month.

'Ride roughshod'

The teachers' unions are campaigning against changes to their pensions which they say will mean working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.

NUT leader Christine Blower said that "teachers do not take strike action lightly" but accused the government of trying to "ride roughshod over them" in changes to their pensions.

The date set for the strike, the ATL president Andy Brown says, has been picked to "avoid external exams and important school and college events so that any strike causes as little disruption as possible to children's education".

"We do not want to strike, but unless we take a stand now the government will irreparably damage education in this country and children will lose out."

The other main classroom union, the NASUWT, has not held a strike ballot.

But the ATL's deputy general secretary, Martin Johnson, claimed that the strike would affect the "vast majority" of state schools in England and Wales.

It could also affect some independent schools, as many of their staff are members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

ATL would be sending out letters on Wednesday and Thursday to inform local authorities and school governors of the strike plan, he said, after which it would be down to individual schools to decide how they planned to respond and inform parents.

"Whether a school is completely closed or partly closed will depend entirely on the propotion of the staff who are members of the striking unions," he said.

'Disruptive'

Mr Maude accused the unions of announcing a strike before waiting for the outcome of negotiations.

"Any union or any public servant contemplating strike action at the moment is really jumping the gun. There's a long way to go on this yet."

"I am sorry that a handful of unions are hell-bent on pursuing disruptive industrial action while those discussions are still continuing," he said.

About 220,000 NUT members were balloted over the pensions changes. Around nine out of 10 (92%) of those who voted, backed the strike action with a turnout of 40%

And just over half of the ATL's members were eligible to vote - the rest are not members of the pension scheme.

Some 83% of the ATL members of those who voted backed the strike action - on a turn-out of 35%.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said the government was committed to working openly and constructively with unions.

But he added: "We are clear that a strike by teachers will only damage pupils' learning and inconvenience their busy working parents. The well-being and safety of pupils must remain paramount."

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