12 Days Remaining

Saturday 4th
posted by Morning Star in Features

Teachers and other public-sector workers have been hammered by this government – it’s time to give it the boot, writes CHRIS KEATES

WITH a general election only weeks away, teachers gathering at the NASUWT annual conference in Cardiff will be reflecting on the impact of five years of the coalition government on public services, including education and the impact of its reforms on children and young people and on ordinary working families.

Teachers, like other public service workers, have endured five years of pay cuts, had their pensions plundered and their working conditions attacked.

As a result there is now a teacher recruitment and retention crisis with over three-quarters of teachers stating that they have considered quitting the profession altogether in the last year. Resignations are at an all-time high and morale at an all-time low.

Children and young people have also been under attack with the abolition of the education maintenance allowance, trebling of tuition fees, downgrading of vocational education and the failure by the coalition to make business step up to the plate and play its part in providing high-quality work experiences and apprenticeships.

Some 3.7 million children now have their lives degraded and derailed by poverty.

The impact of the coalition’s cuts has already been devastating and only 40 per cent of their planned cuts have been made so far.

Yet in his Budget presentation last month the Chancellor made a virtue out of even more deep cuts to public spending, presenting as a triumph economically sadistic plans to compress five years of planned cuts into three, post-general election.

If these cuts continue, by 2017, Britain is set to have the lowest share of public spending among major economies.

In pursuit of an agenda for which not one person in the country voted, this unelected coalition has deliberately sought to turn welfare into a dirty word through its shameful rhetoric of scroungers, skivers and the notion of the idle poor, seeking to scapegoat some of the most vulnerable in society in an effort to minimise opposition to the cuts.

Across Britain it is areas of deprivation, not affluence, which have faced the biggest cuts.

People already in poverty are bearing most of these cuts, along with those who need the support of health and social care.

Child and adult mental health services have been slashed by a third or more.

Disabled people have been hit by no less than 13 different measures, some of which have left the terminally ill waiting months for financial support.

Women, because of their caring responsibilities, have been hit disproportionately hard.

Yet during the lifetime of this coalition the pay of top directors has increased by 26 per cent, while one in five working people earn below the living wage.

Two in five workers are now on zero-hours contracts earning less than £100 per week and unable to qualify for sick pay.

We have a society riven with inequality, as the coalition sacrifices our public services, our welfare state and the future of generations of children to privatisation and marketisation.

This callous and savage administration must end at the general election on May 7.

  •  Chris Keates is general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ trade union.