By David Miller
MAJOR schools in Batley and Cleckheaton were shut yesterday (Thursday) as part of a national strike by public sector workers.
Batley’s Business and Enterprise College and Girls’ High School were closed along with Whitciffe Mount High in Cleckheaton.
They were among 114 schools in Kirklees affected by a dispute over pension changes. Courts, job centres and council services were also disrupted.
The walkout, which led to picket lines at some schools and three rallies in Huddersfield, was led by National Union of Teachers (NUT) members.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the University and College Union and the Public and Commercial Services union were also involved.
About 750,000 staff nationally took part in the biggest public sector strike for years in a bitter row of pension reforms.
The proposed changes mean public sector staff will have to retire later and pay more into their pensions, which will pay out less.
Kirklees was badly affected compared to bigger authorities. Figures showed 49 and 124 schools were disrupted in Bradford and Sheffield respectively.
Cleckheaton’s Whitechapel Middle, Spen Valley Sports College in Liversedge, Gomersal Middle and Chickenley Junior School in Dewsbury were closed.
Others, including Earlsheaton Technology College, Brownhill St Saviours in Birstall and Birkdale High in Dewsbury were partially open.
Choir and homework clubs at Battyeford Primary plus all afterschool activities at Whitechapel Middle, including sports, were cancelled.
About 2,000 NUT and ATL members in Kirklees went on strike. But national ballots which led to the walkout attracted turnouts of just 36 per cent and 40 per cent.
Hazel Danson, of Kirklees NUT, said teachers were sorry for the impact on children and parents but they had been left with no option.
She said: “We are very aware of the disruption. We don’t take this action lightly. But the Government refused to make any move in negotiations.”
Gill Collins, Kirklees ATL branch secretary, added: “No teacher enters the profession believing they are going to be rich at the end of their career.
“Most accept that they will earn less than their peers in other professions. But they do expect in return a modest and secure pension.”