Teachers defend strike action
TEACHERS from schools across the town walked out yesterday as part of a national day of strike action by the National Union of Teachers.
The strike affected many secondary and primary schools, with some having to shut entirely while others were only open for certain year groups.
While some parents vented their frustration at the inconvenience caused by the action, those on strike argued it was vital for the long-term future of education.
Many Swindon strikers headed to Bristol to join thousands of other union members in a rally and march.
Among them was Tracy Mason of Crowdys Hill School, who said she was pleased with the turnout and hoped the Government heard the message.
She said: “I think it has been a good day and we got a lot of support from passers-by, with people tooting their horns. It was good to speak with other teachers and discuss the situations at other schools.
“The turnout was very good, especially as there were several other protests in the region.
“I think we did send the right message across and I hope the Government is listening. I hope we have the support of parents because it is for their children we are fighting.”
Also at the rally was Ian Hamilton, a maths teacher at Isambard School, who said the strike was a battle which needed to be won. “This is not a day off. We are losing a day’s pay and have come down to Bristol to make our point,” he said.
“This is a fight we have to win to ensure the standards remain high for the next 20 or 30 years. We want qualified teachers coming into the profession and for that we need to ensure there are good conditions, pay and pensions.
“We are fighting on the side of parents because things cannot continue as they have been.”
However, many parents were furious at the decision as for some it meant they had to miss a day of work to look after one child, despite others having to go because their school was open to certain year groups.
The day was part of an ongoing campaign which also saw strike action in Swindon take place last October. Then, the union was joined by the NASUWT, but due to talks that union pulled out of the latest action.
Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson said: “I was very disappointed that the NUT members chose to strike, especially when the NASUWT decided not to join in because they felt the talks had been progressive.
“It has caused great inconvenience to parents and further more it denied many children a day of education. The changes are vital to ensure that the very best teachers progress up the pay scale.”
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