School’s out as pensions protest begins

Thousands of children across Camden were forced to stay at home today as teachers took to the streets to protest against pension reforms.

Only four of the borough’s state schools, St Michael’s in Camden Town, Christ Church in Hampstead, St Eugene de Mazenod in Kilburn and the Jack Taylor special school in Swiss Cottage, stayed open.

As many as 1,150 Camden teachers joined nationwide strikes, according to the Camden branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

Andrew Baisley, from the NUT, said local members felt a ‘tremendous sense of injustice’ about the proposed pension scheme changes.

He said: “I’ve been into schools and it really is about the scale of these unfair and unwarranted changes. Government ministers have admitted that they want to introduce higher pension contributions to pay for the deficit.

“They’re taxing teachers to combat debts run up by bankers. Can you imagine how they (the teachers) feel about that?”

More than 88 per cent of teachers working in Camden – one of the highest proportion in the country – joined the throng in Lincoln’s Inn Fields from 7.30am this morning.

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The NUT was expecting 10,000 teachers from across the country to march to Parliament Square and then rally in the Methodist Central Hall opposite Westminster Abbey.

Teachers were joined by other public sector workers after talks between union leaders and government ministers failed on Monday.

Pension changes would see them having to work for longer, paying in more to their pension fund and receiving less when they retire.

Mr Baisley claimed the changes would see between a 50 and 70 per cent cut for new teachers. “Every teacher in the country knows all of this,” he said. “The sense of outrage is absolutely palpable as soon as you say the word pensions.”