Teachers strike over job cuts

Teachers striking at Sussex Downs College, Eastbourne
Teachers striking at Sussex Downs College, Eastbourne

TEACHERS from Park College left the classroom yesterday (May 24) in a strike against potential job cuts.

Staff at college who are members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) walked out and stood on Kings Drive with their placards, after it emerged more than a dozen of their colleagues are set to lose their jobs.

Phil Clarke, secretary of Lewes and Eastbourne NUT, spoke from outside the college on Thursday.

He said, “We are very pleased with the response from members. It has been very solid. I think almost every member from Park College and EVOC are out on strike today.”

He also explained public support had been good, with many motorists honking their horns in support.

Phil said, “People appreciate it is not just about our jobs but about education in the community. Making these cuts doesn’t benefit anyone.”

Nick Childs, regional officer for the NUT, was also out with the strikers. He explained the job cuts were being made because A Level students would be receiving 15 minutes less teaching a week in each subject from September – a reduction in teaching of one hour per week for those students taking four A Levels.

Some, including Sussex Down College bosses, have criticised the strikers for the disruption to classes during the important exam season.

Phil was keen to stress there would be no disruption to the actual exams but admitted, while the college was open, lessons would not be able to go ahead without the teachers.

Phil said, “The students are losing one day now, but they will soon be losing an hour a week.

“We had been close to an agreement and had hoped we would not have to go out today, but in the end our offer wasn’t accepted.”

Phil also said the NUT was prepared to take further strike action if necessary.

A spokesperson for the college said, “We appreciate that this a difficult time for staff in all parts of the public sector. Sussex Downs College isn’t immune from the effects of austerity measures.

“We are most disappointed that any teacher would consider taking strike action at this critical time of year for our students.”

• What do you think of the strike action? Should the teachers have left the classroom? Comment on our website at www.eastbourneherald.co.uk.