These are a few comments culled from the coverage of today’s strikes… goes to show the breadth and depth of feeling across the country, I feel: from parents to teachers, from civil servants to union bosses…
“My kids’ school is closed today and far from sitting at home moaning about the strikers taking away a day of education for children, I have taken the opportunity to educate my children about why the teachers are striking. There is nothing like a live event to help children learn about a subject, and nothing as good as their highly regarded and respected teachers feeling so strongly about something to take action to emphasise the depth of feeling towards the disgusting things this part-bit government is immorally doing! Support the strikers, defend the country!”
“Department for Education says of state schools in England, 26% are closed (4,640 schools), 22% are partially open (3,888) and 23% (4,115) are fully open. Interestingly, the department doesn’t know the status of the remaining 5,156 schools in England.”
“I have been teaching for 12 years and love my job. However, when entering the profession I did look into what it means for my future. I was pleased with the pension scheme and even chose to contribute extra- all the time keeping in mind my and my families future. This job is so physically and mentally demanding, I’ve see class sizes grow and funding cut yet we are supposed to keep the results growing. I personally would not be happy with a 68-year-old teaching my child – would you?”
“When the time comes, I will also take strike action for the right to retire. Who wants to be treated by a 67-year old theatre nurse? I’ve been paying into my pension for over 30 years, and I pay taxes, too.”
“I along with thousands of other civil servants value our work and are committed to providing good customer service to the best of our ability with the tools we are given. I am however on strike today as I simply cannot afford to live. My salary is £21k for a comparative role in the private sector I would be paid much more. I have had no pay rise for 2 years, there is no opportunity for career progression, and I will now take a drop in salary of £50 per month because of the pension changes but my overall pension fund is a lot less. I have worked in all 3 sectors and can say I have honestly never worked harder yet this is my reward! I do hope the general public understand that for the bulk of civil servants this is about survival not greed.”
Nice banner – “if you can read this thank a teacher, with a decent pension” #j30
“This is a very difficult situation for the government – pensions have been pushed off into the long grass time and time again – but unless the unions and the government can find a compromise that is acceptable to both sides there is a risk of a great deal more strike action in the autumn.”
“An interesting change of language by the prime minister’s official spokesman today. Pressed over whether David Cameron still believed public sector pension schemes were in danger of going broke, the No 10 spokesman said: “We are seeking to make the system fairer.” No longer saying that the public sector pension schemes are “untenable”. A word used by the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude this morning on the Today programme who said he was quoting from Lord Hutton’s report on the issue. But further questioning from Evan Davies revealed that nowhere does Lord Hutton make that claim, rather he argues that the drive to reform public sector pensions is a matter of “fairness”. It now seems someone at No 10 has read the report more closely.”
“Two, four, six, eight, we won’t work till 68!”
“I’m a civil servant striking today. I have seen my food bills increase two-fold while my pay is frozen and low. I am paying stupid high fuel bills and car tax bills because my car’s old and don’t have the money for a fuel efficient one. Scottish Power just sent me a letter telling me they want to charge me more. I’m sick of it. I don’t care if I strike forever because my life would be better on the dole.”
“Striking Metropolitian Police security staff picketing the House of Commons have told me they feel “let down” by Labour leader Ed Miliband’s decision not to back their industrial action.
PCS member Kevin Smith said some Labour MPs had refused to cross the picket line and offered their support but he was “angry” and “disappointed” by the party leadership’s attitude.”
“I’m a teacher striking today for my colleagues who have worked in a very difficult profession for 25 years or more who have suddenly have had the goalposts moved. Why should we as teachers pay a huge price for the failings of those in the government of the country to control our economy? What were they doing when the banks were falling apart? Well, some were illegally claiming for more cash for themselves. Surely it is these hypocrites who should begin to feel the pinch first.”
“I am a civil servant on strike today, the first time I have done so in 25 years as I am very angry about this attack on my pension. I know private sector pensions are struggling but Hutton said we should avoid a “race to the bottom”. Also no actual negotiations by the goverment on this, only how/when the changes will be imposed not on the actual changes themselves. No evidence supplied on the health of the schemes & they are trying to pit public/private workers against each other. Sorry if you are inconvenienced today but we have to stand up for our rights.”
“General secretary of the PCS union Mark Serwotka has accused Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude – who’s representing the government in the talks – of floundering whenever he was presented with detailed arguments.
“You tried to mislead people for weeks. The costs are falling. You want people to work up to eight years longer – pay lots more money in, get less out.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are on strike today because this is absolutely unfair and its unjust,” he said.”
“I am a newly qualified teacher. I work about 12 hours a day and already contribute £144 a month to my pension and find that I often run out of money by the end of the week. If the government want to attract new teachers and keep good teachers in the profession they need to treat us fairly.”
“I wish that the politicians wouldn’t talk like the private sector is keeping up public sector workers. We pay taxes too! We have childcare issues too! For the most part we are dedicated, working, doing challenging jobs in challenging conditions. Some workers are getting pay cuts and are also being expected to up pension contributions. Nearly a 10% decrease in take home pay, when all other prices are rising. How does the average family cope with this?”
“Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) says the government has never performed a promised valuation of their pension scheme.
“We haven’t been able to negotiate, we haven’t had the basic information we need from the government,” she said.”
“But Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude says the current arrangements are unsustainable and said it was “absolutely unjustifiable” for parents to be inconvenienced and forced to lose a day’s work.
He had this message for anyone going out on strike today: “They shouldn’t. Talks are still going on. We met on Monday, we’re meeting again next week with the trade unions to talk about how we resolve all of this.””
“Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, tells the London rally that Labour leader Ed Miliband – who said the strikes were being held at the wrong time when negotiations are on-going – should be ashamed of himself.
“Ed Miliband’s response is a disgrace. He should be ashamed of himself,” she says.”