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UK: Teacher unions show solidarity with 1m striking local government workers

EI affiliates the NASUWT, NUT and AUT are supporting local government employee unions in their one day strike today; part of the campaign to demand fair treatment over pension rights in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

The strike, which could be the biggest stoppage in the UK since the General Strike in 1926, is over plans to scrap a rule allowing some people to retire on a full pension at 60, which the government says is discriminatory.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT, said: "Whilst good progress is being made in the negotiations with the Government on teachers' pensions, local government workers have been faced with intransigent employer attitudes. "The members of UNISON, T&G, AMICUS and GMB, who will be taking action, provide essential services such as social care and environmental health and play a crucial role in supporting education, cleaning and catering services in schools.

"No public sector worker takes strike action lightly but it is absolutely clear that these workers are facing a grave injustice and have been left with little alternative. "NASUWT supports fully the action being taken and has issued advice to all its members to ensure that they do not cover for or undertake any work which those on strike would normally have performed."

AUT general secretary Sally Hunt has also urged members to support colleagues in UNISON, T&G, GMB and AMICUS in their strike action next week. Although few AUT and NASUWT members are in the LGPS, where other union members are taking part, Sally Hunt said:

"I urge local associations and all AUT members to support this action in any way they can in those institutions where it is taking place." The AUT has also asked its local associations to send a message of support to their local branches of the relevant union within their university and in local authorities and advise members not to undertake any work normally done by colleagues taking strike action.

AUT deputy general secretary Malcolm Keight told local associations: "Local government employers are leading an offensive to erode public sector pension provisions. If they are successful, they could set benchmarks for other schemes, such as the Teachers Pension Scheme." NUT General Secretary Steve Sinnott said: "The NUT fully supports the action being taken by local government staff, including our own members, to protect their pensions from changes that are both unfair and unjust. We welcome the messages of support we have received from colleagues for this campaign."