The decision to strike or not is a personal one, today however I am on strike.
This is because my union, the National Union of Teachers, has asked me to withdraw my labour for the day. This is due to the ongoing negotiations with the government about the change to the teachers pension scheme.
This change is multifaceted; an increase in contributions by 3%; decrease in retirement benefits; and increase in retirement age; in my case from 60 to 68. The retirement age may continue to rise as it will be set inline with state pension age.
This is also in the same environment when teachers are in the middle of a two year pay freeze, which yesterday George Osbourne announced will be followed by a two years of a maximum increase of 1%.
I understand the need for austarity. However in the last few months my electricity bill has gone up by 4.5%; my rent has gone up by 3%; and last night I received an email from BT saying that they are putting up their prices. Prices are also going up for food, and petrol.
I think the government is treating public sectors unfairly; pensioners are receiving pension increases of 5.2% (which I don’t disagree with); however to then give most public sector workers no increase is in my mind very inequitable.
I have been teaching so far for five complete years; at the moment if I left the profession tomorrow I would receive an annuity of £2,092; If I continue working until I am sixty; under the old/current scheme I will receive approximately £18,000. (this assumes that I don’t receive any further promotions and pay rises other than those in line with inflation).
Although I question some of the governments mathmatics I don’t disagree with the increase in contributions. People are living longer; though the teachers pension scheme was revised only in 2007. What I am against is forcing teachers to work until they are 68. This will have a negative impact on the learners of the future. I currently get to school at 7:30am every morning; and leave work at 5:30pm most evenings. I spend all the time I am teaching on my feet. I have to climb three flights of stairs to get to my classroom and do that at least ten times a day. I carry boxes of books around to different classrooms. Teaching is a physically demanding job. If I retire when I am 68; I will have been teaching for 47 years. Will I be able to do the same job I do now; who knows? Will the staff room look like the day lounge in a OAP home?
Teachers do get longer than average holidays. However I am in school on average a week and a half of holiday time. In addition I do a couple of hours work every evening and at least one day in the weekend in term time. I spend much of my ‘holiday time’ going to the dentist, the doctors, the opticians the garage. Things that I can’t do during term time. I have three days off sick in the last five years. So I although there are long holidays; they are not as good as they seem? I don’t receive any bonuses or other incentives (nor do I want or need them!).
I resent the fact that secretary of state for education has criticised the fact ‘we’ are going to leave parents without child care arrangements. I do feel sympathy with parents and their childcare arrangements; however my job is not to provide childcare. My job is to provide education. I am a qualified professional not in childcare but education.
I know this seems like a rant; and that is because it is!
There are a number of others who have written more eloquently on the subject.
So today I won’t be doing school work. I will be doing some DIY; cleaning the house. This will then allow me to spend more time on the weekend doing schoolwork to deal with the backlog I am sure!
Image of Micheal Gove on Strike as a member of the NUJ
This is the same person that has told teacher’s to think again about striking.
On a final note I would like to praise the Brentwood Gazette who yesterday ran a very balanced piece on the strikes. Unfortunately I can’t find the same story on their website.
It was especially good to see the level of public support as that is something that has not always appeared in the media.