HUNDREDS of teachers joined arms with public sector employees in strike action over possible pension reforms.
More than 300 schools across Essex closed as members of the National Union of Teachers and the Public and Commercial Services Union rallied through Chelmsford town centre protesting over the Governments proposals to change public sector pensions.
Changes being suggested by the Government include raising the retirement age from 60 to 66 and the replacing of final salary pension schemes with a career average system.
Jerry Glazier, general secretary of Essex NUT, thinks the proposals are unfair and teachers and public sector workers are “being picked on”.
Mr Glazier said: “We find it divisive that the Government uses the argument that because private sector pensions have collapsed that it should be the same teachers and the public sector.
“It could also have longer term consequences 20 or 30 years down the line as it would not sustain people’s existence in retirement.
“Many teachers take career breaks or take time off to raise a family so there pensions can be quite small anyway so it could have a mega affect on them.”
He also fears if the proposals are passed through the influx of new teachers into the occupation could also suffer.
Mr Glazier said: “It could drive younger people out of the career and it is a very serious issue in Essex as in my time as a teacher, dating back 35 years, we have had three major teacher shortages in that time.
“The Government are looking at today when they need to be looking in the longer distance.”
Chelmsford based teachers joined in with the marchers, with one, James French, 41, who echoed Mr Glazier’s comments of the reforms being unfair.
The drama teacher said: “At the moment we are being told we are going to have to pay in a lot more and get less out of it along with having to stay on for a few more years which a lot of us feel is very wrong.”
Other unions joining in the march included the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the University and College Union.