Schools and councils will be rocked by strikes

TEACHERS and council workers are set to strike next Wednesday in protest of government plans to reform the pensions of public sector workers.

A number of schools in and around Royston are likely to close although at this stage many have not yet decided on a plan of action.

Greneway Middle School, in Royston, will close and headteacher Sue Kennedy told The Crow around 80 per cent of her teachers will walk out.

“We want the government to rethink what they are doing for pensions, especially for those who have been in the profession for 20 years,” she said.

“They were told their pension would be a certain level and now they’re changing it. If they do the changes for people starting, we would understand that.

“They have moved the goalposts for those in their 40s and coming up to 50 – it’s a big change and it’s not fair.”

It is understood that Icknield Walk First will shut along with Tannery Drift First School and Reed First School.

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At the time of going to press it was unclear whether Greneway’s partners in the Royston Schools Academy Trust – Meridian and Roysia Middle School – would close their doors to pupils.

The National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers will be joined by members of most of the other major workers’ groups ranging from Unite to The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service.

Councils across Crow country are braced for the strikes, with North Herts District Council and Hertfordshire County Council claiming to be prepared for the action.

David Lloyd, executive member for resources at the county council, said: “The strike is over national issues. The need for change is caused by the pressures of an increasing population of older people, who are living longer and drawing their pensions for longer.

“We are planning ahead to protect essential services during any strike action, liaising closely with the unions which represent our workforce.

“Local government staff already contribute a more substantial portion of their wages to their pensions than other public sector workers. While I understand the concerns of staff members for their retirement plans, striking is not the way forward.

“We, along with other employers in the public sector, are committed to finding a way to reform the Local Government Pension Scheme in a way that is fair to staff and affordable for the taxpayer, in order that we can protect front line services.”

Cllr Lynda Needham, leader of North Herts District Council said: “We are aware of plans by Unison to strike in protest at the Government’s proposals to change public service pension schemes and we are in talks with them at a local level to ensure that services for vulnerable residents and other critical council functions can still be retained amid potential disruption to other services.”

Both South Cambs District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council said they were prepared for any action.

A full list of affected schools will be placed on Hertfordshire County council’s website as and when it is alerted.