Strike action closes St Albans schools

THE majority of schools across the St Albans district were either closed or partially closed yesterday, after members of all the main teaching unions, including NUT, NASUWT and ATL, walked out in the dispute over pensions and working conditions.

Parents were left having to make alternative arrangements for their children or take the day off work to look after them.

One mum, who did not wish to be named, told the Herts Advertiser: “I have two sons, both of whom are home yet again for the second time in two weeks, as their secondary school closed for the day.

“It is annoying as teachers had an occasional day just last week, which forced me to take a day’s holiday to look after my sons.”

Some schools, including Marlborough School in St Albans and Roundwood Park and Sir John Lawes, in Harpenden, did take children who had nowhere else to go.

A picket line was set up outside Francis Bacon School, on Drakes Drive, which seemed to be gaining a lot of support from passing drivers.

Ollie, a member of the NUT on the picket line, said: “I am striking as it’s the only tool I have if I don’t agree with policies that are being proposed. I’m taking a stand against these.

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“I don’t see why the public sector, which doesn’t create waste or unemployment and doesn’t create financial problems around the world, is now being made to pay for other people’s mistakes.”

Sean Kidd, who was also on the picket line, said: “Teachers don’t get bonuses and aren’t privy to discount holidays. We need young people to join this profession, but there is no incentive and the one bonus that teachers did have, their pensions, is not going to be on offer.”

Lincoln, a NASUWT member, added: “I’m supporting my union first and foremost. It’s our way of saying that we don’t agree with the government on their pension policy. In the end, what else can we do?”

Hertfordshire County Council posted a list of affected schools on its website, but said it could not give an “entirely accurate” picture of how many were closed, as schools were not obliged to inform them of their decision.