More than 250 teachers & support staff from Ealing schools marched today (1 February 2023) on the Broadway from Ealing Town Hall to Ealing Broadway station to get on trains to join tens of thousands of people gathering at Westminster in London to protest over pay and conditions in education.
By the time the teachers, supporting staff and supporters arrived at Ealing Broadway station, organisers said around 1000 people boarded the train and its carriages to make the journey to Westminster.
The local branch of the National Education Union (NEU), Ealing NEU were supported by other union members and non-union members from schools who wanted to express their concern over the pay and conditions for teachers and support staff.
According to NEU Ealing around 2000 staff from schools across Ealing are on strike today with many of them joining their colleagues in Westminster for the mass protest.
As well as primary and secondary school teachers and support staff going on strike, staff from University of West London also were on strike and joined with their Ealing school colleagues.
Along the route, drivers honked their horns and members of the public clapped the marchers.
One motorist told EALING.NEWS as he was waiting behind the marchers: “It is important to show support. I’ve only be inconvenienced by minutes but so much more needs to be done to ensure teachers and support staff are properly paid.”
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Stefan Simms, Ealing NEU secretary said: “There is a massive recruitment and retention crisis for teachers and support staff so for support staff, they can get better pay working in Sainsbury’s or Lidl and better hours. With teachers, one in eight teachers leave within a few months. They never return. They leave the profession forever because they can get better pay anywhere else.
“One in three teachers leave the profession within five years never to return. So we have had pay cuts since 2010. So if someone started working at the beginning in 2010, and had inflation equalling inflation paying increases, they would be on between £60-85,000. There is a funding crisis. In 2010 5.5% of GDP was spent on education now it’s 4%. So the vulnerable and the children who need the most help are not getting it.
Mr Simms added: “So we are striking for our schools to be properly funded. For teachers to be properly paid. For support staff to be properly paid. We want a proper education because parents want their children taught by a qualified teacher. So if you’re having a chemistry lesson, and you’re being taught by someone who doesn’t have a degree in chemistry, what’s that about?
“There is a massive shortage of primary teachers. There is a massive shortage of teachers in a number of subjects. And I heard Gillian Keegan on the radio earlier this morning saying that there is the problem. Isn’t that great? This is the biggest problem going because otherwise, why would head teachers also be balancing for strike action?”
Mr Simms also said his union reached out to Ealing Council for support. “I asked if the council would be here locally, but they they said that they had prior engagements. I haven’t had any messages of support which would have been nice.”
Also addressing the strikers outside Ealing Town Hall was Oliver New, Secretary of Ealing Trades Union council
Mr New said: “We know what you’re facing – because millions of others are facing the same. We know it’s not just about respect or fair pay. We know you’re striking today for education and for children. Just like nurses and other health workers are fighting to keep the NHS alive. Rail workers are fighting for a safe railway with actual staff on stations and trains.”
He added: “Ealing TUC consists of reps from various jobs. We meet together; support each other and local campaigns. And when we hear each other’s stories of what’s happening in their industry or their part of the public sector we realise it’s familiar because the same stuff is going on across the UK whether it’s education or the civil service – or the postal service.
“Same story everywhere. The rot is starting at the top and we realise the people at the top do not care about the staff and do not even much care about the service they’re supposed to be in charge of.”
EALING.NEWS has asked Ealing Council for a comment.