Suffolk: Is your child’s school closed? Teachers strike across Suffolk in ongoing pay dispute
- Credit: Archant
Parents and pupils across Suffolk face disruption today as schools close in the face of another round of teacher strikes.
A total of 59 schools are affected and 17 will close as the National Union of Teachers walked out in an ongoing dispute with the government over pay and conditions.
The teachers’ union is joined by members of Unison, Unite, GMB and other unions who are also striking over pay.
Every major town is affected as schools are closing in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Aldeburgh.
In Essex 39 schools are closed and 67 others are partially affected.
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Members of the NUT in Suffolk will meet at Giles Circus in Ipswich for a rally at 11am and then march through the town with members of other unions.
Yesterday Graham White, secretary of Suffolk NUT, said the union had to object to the proposals of the government, which he says impose greater stress on teachers while reducing their salary and increasing their pension contributions.
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“You have a simple choice really,” he said. “Either you say that government wins and we’ll accept lower pay, we’ll accept people dying on the job, we’ll accept the massive recruitment and retention crisis, and 40% of teachers leaving some schools in a year, we’re not going to do anything about it.
“But that’s a ridiculous point to take, that’s why we have to continue to fight for what we believe in and to protect the education system.”
He also threatened that the union could take multiple day strike action in the future and said that he hoped the strike would “have an impact on the election” by making more people aware of the policies of the current government.
However the Department for Education said further strikes would only disrupt the lives of parents, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.
A spokesman added: “There is no justification for further strikes. The unions asked for talks, we agreed to their request and talks are ongoing. Ministers have also met frequently with the unions and will continue to do so.”
Meanwhile Councillor Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said Suffolk children shouldn’t be “dragged in” to a national argument between the unions and the government.
“Many people will ask how teachers can justify going on strike over pay and workload concerns at the same time as wanting to improve educational attainment,” she added.
“On the relatively rare occasions that teachers go on strike, we support heads and encourage them to plan ahead and aim to keep schools open wherever possible. We know that many teachers and support staff won’t actually want to strike and will work with heads to keep their schools running.
“In the meantime, we’d advise parents to check with their schools, on the county council’s website or in the local media - before sending their children to school.
“We would also urge negotiation and discussion rather than strike action and hope to see as many Suffolk schools as possible remain open.”