Barking and Dagenham lecturers join teachers in pensions strike

Dozens of teachers and lecturers came out in protest against government plans to change their pensions.

Teaching staff from almost all of Barking and Dagenham’s 55 schools and from one higher education college formed picket lines outside Barking and Dagenham College in Dagenham Road before heading to central London to march against proposed pension reforms last Wednesday.

Five primary, junior and infant schools were closed, and a number of the remaining 51 schools were partially shut.

The government is planning changes which will see teachers pay more in to their pensions and work longer.

It argues the reforms are necessary to ensure pensions are sustainable as people live longer.

Barking and Dagenham College University and College Union (UCU) branch secretary John Whitworth said: “The picketing was very good. The strike was well followed.

“The march was quite cheerful and it seemed like a good turnout. I think people who turned out thought it was well worth it.”

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He said members of other unions had displayed messages of support on banners along the route from Bloomsbury to Downing Street.

The joint action by the National Union of Teachers and the UCU, which represents lecturers, researchers and academic-related staff, was part of the unions’ pensions campaign, which demands a better deal from the government regarding changes to contributions.

Mr Whitworth added: “We are keen to negotiate a settlement - it’s not something we want to drag out. We are looking for a swift government response.”

Speakers at the central London protest included the NUT’s general secretary Christine Blower, Gail Cartmail from the union Unite and president of the National Union of Students, Liam Burns.