500,000 strike as teachers join the pay walkouts
GCSE pupils just months before their exams were forced to study alone as teachers abandoned them for strike rallies yesterday.
Hundreds of thousands of workers including teachers,
tube drivers and civil servants were involved in the action.
Yesterday was one of the biggest days of strikes since walkouts began last year. Picket lines were mounted outside government offices, schools, hospitals, universities and the BBC as the disputes threatened to overshadow the Budget.
Dubbed Walkout Wednesday, up to 500,000 disgruntled union members left their posts in the action over pay, jobs, pensions, conditions and cuts.
GCSE and A-level pupils were among the worst affected by strikes, despite assurances from union boss Dr Mary Bousted that they would not be ‘harmed’ by the walkout.
Keiran Saxon, who has a son in his first year of GCSE study at Granville Academy in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, said he was ‘very angry and frustrated’ about the enforced remote learning.
The strikes were slammed by campaigners and MPs for putting pupils under ‘even more stress’ after suffering ‘three years of stop/start education’. Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay said: ‘From children already behind in attainment levels after the Covid lockdowns to people awaiting medical appointments. All are treated as mere pawns in a game to bring the country to its knees.’
Arabella Skinner, of parents’ advocacy group UsforThem, added: ‘Our children are losing out because of adults’ behaviour.’
The National Education Union has so far rebuffed Education Seclocal
‘Our children are losing out’
retary Gillian Keegan’s pledge to enter talks on pay and conditions if industrial action is paused.
Leading crowds marching through London for a rally in Trafalgar Square yesterday, NEU joint general secretary Dr Bousted said: ‘Teachers work more overtime than any other profession and you are having to deal with child poverty which is a disgrace. You deserve to be well paid.’
Dr Bousted said she was ‘incredibly disappointed’ with the Education Secretary, accusing her of ‘wasting’ time. ‘Do the right thing, open the door and let’s start to negotiate,’ she added.
In London, striking tube drivers caused a nightmare for commuters who faced almost 400 traffic jams stretching 250 miles by 7am.
Finn Brennan, Aslef district organiser for the London Underground, said more strikes were ‘inevitable’ if the dispute is not resolved.
In another headache for the BBC,
TV and radio services across England were plunged into chaos while staff protested over plans to cut output. The corporation later apologised for the disruption.
Meanwhile, junior doctors in the British Medical Association were on the third day of a 72-hour strike. And up to 150,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union and Prospect walked out in what was said to be the biggest civil service strike. They were joined by members of the GMB working for Amazon in Coventry who are striking all week over pay.