Teachers walk out as strike hits Eastbourne

Sussex Downs college strike picket line
Sussex Downs college strike picket line

STRIKE action by teachers and public sector workers brought widespread disruption to schools in and around Eastbourne yesterday.

But there was less impact on public services such as the Job Centre Plus in St Anne’s Road, where staff were available to deal with clients while prioritising provision of key elements such as crisis loans.

The strike was organised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the University and College Union (UCU) and the Public and Commercial Services Union.

Nationwide, the one-day walk-out involved some 750,000 people, including UK Border Agency staff, court workers, tax officials and driving test examiners.

Across East Sussex 91 schools were affected.

Dave Brinson, East Sussex secretary for the NUT, explained the reasons for the strike, which had been “well supported” in Eastbourne.

He said, “The Government is imposing changes to the Teachers’ Pension scheme that would mean a pay cut of £60 to £100 a month for teachers, a longer working life and a lower pension at the end.

“However, they consistently refuse to carry out a revaluation of the scheme, even though this is required by law and is more than a year overdue.”

While NUT policy was not to picket individual schools but to join rallies in Brighton and Hastings instead, placard-waving NUT members were at the gates of Sussex Downs College in Eastbourne, pictured above.

A college spokesman said, “A significant number of our lecturers, teachers and tutors are in the three unions so there is only limited provision for students today, although most have finished formal lessons for the year.

“College heads have made arrangements for anticipated changes to classes, events and other services scheduled for today.”

Peter Gordon, headteacher at Hazel Court Special School, was among strikers and he said, “We’re being forced to do this to protect the education of our future pupils.”

East Sussex County Council said teachers joining the strike would lose a day’s pay and Capita said it would also mean them losing a day’s pension provision.