Thousands strike against budget cuts

7th April 1995 at 01:00
Several thousand teachers went on strike this week to protest against cuts to school budgets and fears of redundancy.

One-day and half-day strikes occurred in Derbyshire, Rotherham, Sheffield, Barnsley, Nottingham, and Devon. Similar action has already taken place in Oxfordshire, Newcastle and Lambeth. Members of the National Union of Teachers and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers were involved.

An NUT spokeswoman said: "This is not a national campaign. It is the result of the frustration and anger our members feel over the dreadful cuts taking place. It is a clear message to the Government that this situation cannot go on. "

In Rotherham, the NUT claimed the "vast majority" of the borough's 150 schools were hit as up to 1,000 members stayed away, many attending a rally in the town centre. Some schools closed and others had lessons disrupted, according to Dennis Bates, Rotherham NUT branch secretary.

Mr Bates, the headteacher of Swinton comprehensive, said budget cuts of 3 per cent this year and 4 per cent last year had left his school with 10 fewer teachers for 1,150 pupils compared to 1988. "We wouldn't give up a day's pay unless we thought it would do some good. It is ludicrous that one of the richest countries in the world, where the Chancellor says how well we are doing, can cut teachers when the number of pupils is going up."

In Nottinghamshire, about three-quarters of secondary schools closed during a strike on Tuesday, and 2,500 people attended a march and rally in Nottingham against a planned 300 teacher redundancies.

In Devon, approximately 2,600 members of the National Union of Teachers went on strike on the penultimate day of term, the first such action in 10 years.

Devon Tory MPs who met Mr Gummer last month to discuss the threatened education cuts condemned the strike. Patrick Nicholls, Conservative MP for Teignbridge, said it would achieve nothing.

Alan Parker, education officer for the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, said while the employers could not support this sort of industrial action, they understood that teachers were striking because of their concern for the education service.

The Department for Education condemned action which would damage children's education.

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