Legitimate Strike Action Gains Support of Medway Green Party

That's what it's all about

The strike action on 30th June may have been condemned by the Conservatives, Lib-dems and Labour parties but the Green Party across the UK were openly in support of the teachers, lecturers and civil servants action to protect their terms and conditions. In Chatham, Medway Greens had spent the previous Saturday talking to shoppers and residents about the strike and were supporting the rally on the day at the Command House.

Trish Marchant from Medway Green Party said “It is a tragedy for both the students and the teachers that the coalition governments vicious attacks on the pension and retirement age of such an important sector of our society has forced workers to strike, most for the first time in their careers. To increase the contributions to their pensions by 50% is bad enough but to then devalue the pension by pushing back the age for retirement for people that have spent their working lives in such a challenging and sometimes stressful job is just cruel. The average pension for a retired teacher is £10000, less than the minimum wage, that is not gold-plated.”

Earlier in the week Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch told the press that she was prepared to help in one of her constituency schools in support of the teachers that were not striking. Not surprising this did not go down well at the rally when it was mentioned by one of the speakers. Trish was also critical of the MP’s action claiming that she was using the strike herself as an opportunity to score points. “It is astonishing that Tracey accuses the teachers of playing games with the education of children when it is her and her coalition partners that have caused this crisis. This government is making the public sector pay the cost of the banks mistakes and the previous governments mismanagement of the finance sector. The civil servants and teachers have made the difficult decision to strike knowing that it will cause disruption to the people they care about, but if this government doesn’t start to recognise the potential damage of its actions it is likely that Unison, GMB and others, who’s members pensions average at a few thousand, will be forced to follow the same action. I hope that the message from Thursday gets through to those that make the decisions”.

As far as the effect on the school children Trish summed up what a teacher had said to her “I was told by one striker that the effect on the student of one lost school day has to be set against the alternative of a demoralised workforce struggling to make the additional contributions with the reality of the current pay freeze and a retirement in poverty for teachers.”

Last year Michael Gove, the education minister, told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers how important they were and how valuable their professional skills were. The same teachers hope that he will remember this and review the treatment of pensions and retirement age. In 2006 public sector pensions were reviewed in light of the increased life expectancy in the UK so it is widely accepted that these pensions are now sustainable.

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