Schools may close if teachers strike

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EVERY school in Hastings and St Leonards could shut later this month after teachers’ unions voted to strike over their pensions.

The walk-out is planned for Thursday, June 30 and is part of a nationwide day of action which could see as many as 750,000 public sector workers down tools for the day.

The town’s five secondary schools and 19 primary schools will probably shut as well as Sussex Coast College Hastings and The University Centre Hastings after members of the University and College Union and Association of Teachers and Lecturers joined their colleagues in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in the revolt.

Hastings Magistrates Court, the Jobcentre Plus office and the driving test centre are all likely to close as well after the Professional and Commercial Services (PCS) union voted to walk out.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “Teachers do not take strike action lightly but the overwhelming support for action by NUT members shows that teachers feel what is happening to their pensions is wrong.

“The simple truth is that many teachers cannot afford a 50 per cent increase in their pension contributions.

“NUT surveys show that many teachers will leave the scheme and even leave the profession.

“The Government needs to address these issues in its negotiations.”

Hastings’s Conservative MP Amber Rudd questioned how representative strikes would be, seeing as turnout in none of the four ballots topped 40 per cent.

She said ‘grotesque overspending’ by the last Labour Government was the main cause of the public sector cuts and said she hoped the ongoing negotiations could head off the strike action.

“We have excellent teachers here and I hope they make the right decision to keep supporting the children who need them,” she said.

East Sussex County Council said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ the unions had voted for strikes.

A spokesman said: “We do not believe that disrupting the education of our children is the way to go about solving this issue.”