Redbridge schools could close as teachers plan day of strikes

Up to 1,700 teachers could walk out of Redbridge classrooms next week in a row over pension reform.

Most of the schools in the borough may be forced to close on Thursday when members of the National Union of Teachers will join civil servants and college lecturers for the national strike.

Teachers are unhappy about government plans that will see them pay more in contributions, receive less and retire later at the same time as a pay freeze.

Redbridge NUT president Bob Archer said: “Backing for the strike ballot was very strong in Redbridge and head teachers stand to lose a lot more than we do.

“I feel a responsibility to defend pensions because the next generation is going to grow old and they deserve the same pensions that we get. It is something we are doing for the next generation that my parents did for me.”

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Mr Archer said that “one day towards the end of term is not going to injure a child’s learning”.

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said “it is impossible to know what the impact will be” until it finds out exactly how many teachers will walk out.

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A number of Redbridge teachers will meet at the Olive Branch cafe, High Street, Wanstead, at 9.30am before heading to central London to join strikers from the University and College Union, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Public and Commercial Service Union.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “A strike by teachers will only damage pupils’ learning and inconvenience their busy working parents.”

The action comes as the coalition tries to push through a Bill reforming pensions for all public sector workers, seeing contributions increased from six per cent to nine per cent and the retirement age set at 66 for men and women by 2020.

Speaking in a debate on the Bill on Monday, Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, said the coalition would not delay its decision to equalise the State pension age, but he was “willing to get the transition right”.

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