90 per cent of Tower Hamlets schools to shut in teachers' strike
PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 June 2011
All secondary schools in the East End and most primaries are expected to be closed on Thursday as teachers stage a mass strike in a row over pensions.
The National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have both balloted nationally for strike action.
In the NUT ballot for Tower Hamlets, 95 per cent of members voted in favour of taking to the picket lines.
Staff at Tower Hamlets College in will protest outside the Poplar High Street site and some NUT and University and College Union members are meeting at Chrisp Street Market.
The unions accuse the government of pushing through “draconian changes” which they say will result in teachers working longer while paying more into their pension pots.
NUT secretary for east London, Alex Kenny, said: “Our reports suggest that 90 per cent of schools will be closed, making this the best-supported strike for many years.
“This reflects the level of concern amongst hard working teachers. We have 2,000 members in Tower Hamlets and the vast majority of them will be on strike.”
It is thought the sixteen local authority-run secondary schools in the borough will be forced to close, while the majority of the 69 primaries will also not have enough staff to stay open.
East End teachers will join the thousands expected to march from Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Holborn to Central Hall in Westminster.
The unions say the proposed changes will result in teachers paying 50 per cent more into their pension schemes, with anyone aged 34 or under having to work to 68.
This is the first national strike for the ATL.
Its general secretary Andy Brown said the date was carefully chosen to avoid exam periods.
The Department for Education insisted it working with unions to ensure teachers get “high quality” pensions.
A spokesman added: “A strike by teachers will only damage pupils’ learning and inconvenience their busy working parents.”