Brent teachers join thousands on picket line

Teachers are protesting against proposals to increase their pension contributions and make them work longer

Around a hundred Brent teachers waved their flags and chanted ‘save our pensions’ in the first national walkabout in 29 years.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers congregated outside Ark Academy in Forty Lane, Wembley, to protest at planned changes to their pensions.

Under proposals put forward by the Government, teachers will have to pay more into their retirement pot, and work until they are 68.

Ministers claim the changes are essential because the current pension system is untenable, but unions say the national audit office shows that it is affordable.

Hank Roberts, Brent branch secretary of the NUT: “Teachers will suffer an average �1,000 cutting their salary because of increased contributions of 50 per cent. This is an increase ten times the rate of inflation.

“They are taking money from us to pay off the deficit. We didn’t cause the deficit, but now they are taking money off the people to pay off the debts run up by the bankers and financial speculators.

Most Read

“The Government wants us to work until we are 68, what are we going to do? Try to teach with out zimer frames? Teaching is a mentally and physically demanding job.”

Reaction to the protestors was mainly positive, with drivers honking their car horns in support. Although one lorry driver showed his opposition to the strike by stopping at a green light to shout his criticisms.

The group were set to join thousand of other teachers and striking civil servants for a march through central London.

Government ministers had called on teachers to break the strike and for parents to volunteer at schools. But today it looked like those calls had gone largely unheeded in Brent where the overwhelming majority of schools will either fully or partially closed.

Mr Roberts said: “The strike has been overwhelmingly supported by Brent teachers and parents.”