‘War of attrition’ warning over school strikes

Youngsters at Manor Infant School and Nursery celebrate with headteacher Ashley Howard, centre. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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THE boss of the region’s most powerful teaching union has condemned the government’s launch of pension plans for the profession – despite ongoing negotiations.

John Gawthorpe, president of Hampshire’s NUT branch, said proposals setting out increased pension contributions for teachers in the midst of talks was like ‘throwing a can of petrol on the fire’.

And he warned of a ‘war of attrition’ in the autumn term that could see even bigger and more frequent teaching strikes than those on June 30, which disrupted two thirds of schools across Portsmouth and Hampshire.

Mr Gawthorpe said: ‘The government is playing a stupid game.

‘We thought we were in a negotiation which is supposed to last until October, but every so often they come out and effectively throw a can of petrol on the fire.

‘What they are doing is so crass it beggars belief.

‘Teachers strike as a last resort when they are angry and after the government’s actions I fear pupils in school from September will be in for a hard time.’

The NUT and Association of Teachers and Lecturers are negotiating with the coalition government over plans to increase pension payments by 50 per cent, make them work until they are 68, and get less money when they retire.

The Department for Education this week launched a consultation into plans for pension increases in 2012/13.

According to the plans, a classroom teacher earning £25,700 will pay an extra £10 a month and a headteacher earning £100,000 will pay an additional £100 a month.