David Cameron condemns 'irresponsible' strikes ahead of teacher action tomorrow
David Cameron has offered his backing to teachers who had decided not to go on strike tomorrow and insisted the Government's public sector pensions proposals were fair. He told PMQs: "I would congratulate them for doing the right thing and for keeping their school open, I don’t believe there is any case for industrial action tomorrow, not least because talks are still ongoing. Now, it is only a minority of unions who have taken the decision to go ahead and strike."
Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he hoped teachers “will decide to go to work” rather than taking part in tomorrow’s strikes.
He told BBC News: “I do hope that even at this eleventh hour that there will be teachers who were tempted to strike and will decide to go to work instead, because I don’t want to do anything that will see hard working families inconvenienced.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, in a speech this morning, sent a clear message that issues over public sector pensions would not be resolved by industrial action. He focused on the effects the strikes would have on families, saying: "I'm acutely aware that today millions of people are asking themselves what's going to happen tomorrow?
“Are they you going to be able to send their kids to school? How are they going to get to work? Are they going to be able to get away on holiday? And it seems to me that the strikes tomorrow are not going to help those millions of people, aren’t going to help the millions of members of the trade union movement and they are not going to help the country.”
The UK Border Agency has warned passengers to consider their travel plans on Thursday as strikes could cause huge problems for the immigration system. The Telegraph reports that 70% of UK Border Agency staff are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union which is striking on Thursday. However Norman Shanks, former head of security at BAA said the risk to security was "very low".
Business Secretary Vince Cable said this morning that the strikes were "unnecessary" and that unions had a "very weak mandate". Economic Secretary to the Treasury Justine Greening said that "any responsible government" would reforms pensions to make them more sustainable in the future.
The union supporting firefighters has said that almost half of its members said they would quit if the Government goes ahead with its pension reforms. In a YouGov poll commissioned by the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), 45% of members said they would leave their position if the reforms took place.
Mary Bousted, head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has claimed that her members have been "intimidated" and threatened with disciplinary action if they strike tomorrow.
Labour's Grahame Morris is rumoured to be considering resigning as parliamentary private secretary to Meg Hillier. Mr Morris is understood to be unhappy with the stance party leader Ed Miliband has taken towards the unions. In a blog yesterday, Mr Miliband called for both sides to think again ahead of the strikes.