Pensions strike: Protesters speak out

Demonstrators in Westminster explain why they're on strike in their own words.



Why are you out on strike today?

"I'm against the pension cuts. I'm near pension age. It's actually going to devastate my future. I'll be working six to eight years longer and I'll get less pension as a result of that. I'm 57. I should be retiring at 60. I'll now be 66, 68? Tell me when it's going to end. I don't think they're listening. Michael Gove is out of touch with reality."

How did you feel when he told parents to take over the classroom?

"I think it's absolutely ludicrous. We have teaching assistants doing cover work in schol now. That works – just about. You can't take the professionals out of the classroom and expect parents from any walk of life to say 'we can do what you can do'. It doesn't work."



Why are you out on strike today?

"I'm an officer for one of the unions but obviously our members are out because there are major attacks on public sector pensions. They're being asked to contribute more for less money and work longer. On top of the pay freeze it's a triple whammy really."

What do you say to the argument that a strike is inappropriate while talks are ongoing?

"From our perspective we see very little coming out of the negotiations."

Do you trust Labour any more than the Tories on the issue?

"I think that the Labour party may be a little bit better but I don't think we should forget they were also looking at pensions. The way the Conservatives are going about it is entirely wrong. They haven't negotiated. They've tried to dictate to the unions what's going to happen."



Why are you out on strike today?

"I came out on streets today because I feel the government reforms are not adequately engaging in dialogue with various workers in the public sector.

Are you in the public sector?

"I am, I'm a teacher."

What do you say to the argument that a strike is inappropriate while talks are ongoing?

"All the unions are saying the negotiations are not going well or that the government has de facto decided the reforms have to go ahead. I have under my arm the Hutton report that I've been reading. I guess I feel that of the recommendations made, one of them – the whole last section – is about implementation . While reforms are definitely necessary I feel it's an error of implementation."

So you're not a-priori against the idea of reform?

"I'm signed up to the fact that there must be reform. As an economist I feel that's got to happen. The unions are saying the government is not making adequate consultation. I would totally agree with that."



Why are you out on strike today?

"In support of our pensions and just generally because of the way things are going in this country. We want people to know we're not happy. Things are not good. Pay doesn't go up. Everything's getting more expensive. If these pension reforms go through my friend will be losing £19,000. This isn't chicken feed. This is real issues and real money. I feel were being attacked constantly. The teaching profession is always being attacked."



Why are you out on strike today?

"I'm a UCU member so I'm affected by pensions, both financially and in longevity. I'm working harder and longer for less and also there's several other factors involved. The cuts affect a lot of my students."

So you’re not just here for pensions but for the broader political picture?

"The cuts affect me but they affect a lot of my students as well. That's my main reason for coming out today. I've got a lot of marking to do, I could have done with the day – but as it stands I think this is more important."