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Sussex teachers to strike over pay
More than 20,000 schoolchildren could be sent home from classes again in Brighton and Hove as teachers prepare to strike for the third time in less than 18 months.
Teachers across the county yesterday voted to strike on March 26 in a long- running dispute over pay, pensions and conditions.
Strike action in October last year saw all of the city’s 59 schools close as well as more than 250 across Sussex.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT), which voted to strike yesterday, represents about 70% of the county’s teachers.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) which represents 20% of the county’s teachers, is set to meet on February 14 to decide whether to join the NUT in striking.
Phil Clarke, NUT secretary for Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden said: “These strikes have been called because talks simply haven’t taken place to resolve the issues.
"The Education Secretary (Michael Gove) has deliberately sabotaged them meaning we’re right back to where we started.
“The only way this will end, and it has to end, is when the Education Secretary compromises and stops shoving through badly thought out and damaging policies which really are about privatising education.
“I have got all the sympathy in the world for parents who will be angered by the strike but the fault here lies 100% with the Government.
”If both unions decide to strike the majority of the county’s schools would be forced to close.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The Secretary of State for Education must understand that the teaching profession is on the verge of a crisis.
“The relentless attack on every aspect of teachers’ working lives is taking its toll.
“It was deeply disappointing to teachers that, having agreed in October 2013 to a programme of talks with the NASUWT and the NUT, the Secretary of State for Education did not take the opportunity to progress this, despite planned strike action for November 2013 being called off to allow progress to be made.
“The only way to resolve a dispute is for the parties directly involved to sit down to have serious discussions on the issues of concern.”
One parent who was affected by the strikes in October, Paul Yates-Smith, owner of Sussex Business Bureau, had to make special arrangements for his two children to be looked after, which involved a 100-mile round trip.
Mr Yates-Smith, who said he was frustrated at the lack of communication last year, said: “My initial response is that we're going round in circles.
“At least with it being announced as early as this it will give parents a chance to make plans for the day.
“However, I would like to find out when the headteacher will be able to notify us of school closures in light of the limited notice we had for the last strike.
“I respect everyone's rights to strike and standing up and fighting for what they believe in, but it's a really difficult situation.
“My over-riding concern is we may be setting our children the wrong example.”
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