Thousands get extra day off as teachers strike

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ALMOST every primary and secondary school in Calderdale was closed today as a result of the public sector pensions strike.

Some schools were still looking after small groups of children involved in specialist study work and on residential courses but thousands more enjoyed an extra holiday.

Meanwhile teachers were gathering for a rally in Halifax this morning to protest at the Government’s plan to make them work longer and pay more into their pension scheme.

Sue McMahon, the Calderdale divisional secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It is sad to have to resort to a strike, to have to upset the education of our children which is, and always will be, the number one concern of teachers, but when the Government refuses to even listen to the concerns of its workers we are left with little choice.”

Shelagh Hirst, the secretary of the Calderdale branch of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “We have not balloted for a full day of national action in 127 years but we feel we have no choice when reason has failed.

“Our association is not happy to allow our pensions to be changed when we know the extra money raised will go to the Treasury - this is simply a tax on teachers,” she said.

Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan was due to support members of the Public and Commercial Services union on a picket line outside the Crossfield House JobCentre, in Halifax, this morning and later address the teachers’ rally.

Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker told the Commons: “Now is the right time to reform public sector pensions to make sure that they are sustainable.”

* Schools which planned to open as usual today include Barkisland Primary and Shade Primary School, at Todmorden, as well as Rastrick Independent School.

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