Education International
Education International

British teachers on strike against pension cuts

published 1 July 2011 updated 4 July 2011

Over 750,000 teachers and other public and civil service workers went on a 24-hour strike in the United Kingdom to decry the drastic cuts in pensions the government is trying to push through. Classes were cancelled at more than 10,000 schools across England and Wales, as members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), and the University and College Union (UCU) were taking action.

Commenting on the strike, Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, said: "Today's action across the country demonstrates the anger and distress that this government is causing teachers. Their unjustified attacks on teachers' pensions are nothing short of disgraceful."

Teachers and public sector workers are protesting against proposed changes to their pension plans, which would require public-sector workers to increase their contributions, retire at a later age, and receive less pension payments. The government maintains that these measures were unavoidable in light of the far-reaching austerity programme, aimed at diminishing the Britain's immense budget deficit which accrued since the impact of the economic crisis.

The leaders of unions taking part in the action were unanimous in denouncing the government's refusal to offer any movement whatsoever on the three core issues in question: having to work longer, having to pay more and getting far less in retirement. EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, supported the unions, saying: "Austerity measures do not offer a way out of the crisis. Education is a key to economic recovery. Cutting back on expenditure at a time of economic recession is slowing down the recovery process. Governments are clearly listening too much to the markets – and not enough to the people."