Union plea to parents over strike day action

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A TEACHERS’ union boss today urged Wigan parents not to answer the Government’s school strike-breaking call.

Members of two out of three of the teacher unions - the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) - are set to join almost three quarters of a million public servants in a national walkout over cuts to their pensions.

Wigan Council says 49 schools have confirmed full or part closures, while 21 are likely to remain open.

But they have as yet refused to say which those schools are, claiming there are legal reasons for not doing so in advance of the actual walkout.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is calling on parents to volunteer to take the place of teachers for the day to keep classrooms open.

He is continuing to warn teachers that they will risk losing respect for their profession if they take part in the strike..

Mr Gove also said the strike was “premature” as negotiations were continuing between the government and unions over public sector pensions.

He said: “You don’t see hospital consultants going on strike and I don’t believe that teachers and head teachers should. It’s within their rights - it’s a civil right - but I think it’s wrong for the reputation of the profession.”

But the secretary of Wigan’s NUT branch Max Atkins said: “Gove has respect for headteachers, except when he finds out thousands of them are closing their schools because of the strike.

“Wigan parents know that to do as he asks will just make them pawns in his game and undermine our legitimate strike action.

“Most parents know we are highly motivated and do ridiculous hours because we want their children to succeed – we do NOT get paid a lot for the hours we actually work or the work we do.”

The council is urging parents to check with individual schools about whether they are closed due to industrial action.

A spokesman said: “Headteachers will do all they can to keep schools open where it is safe and practical to do so.

“If this is not possible, school staff will do their best to inform parents and carers in advance so they can make alternative arrangements.”