30/06/2011 Newsnight


30/06/2011

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.


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The first major strike in Britain under the coalition, who will blink

:00:08.:00:12.

first? The stakes could hardly be higher for the Government, the

:00:13.:00:17.

unions and for Labour. As all sides dispute the impact of the walkout,

:00:17.:00:24.

is this the beginning of a new era of industrial action? These days

:00:24.:00:28.

protestors seem to have croissants for breakfast, but the anger of

:00:28.:00:32.

what the Government is doing seems as strong as ever. Unions are

:00:32.:00:36.

taking action. It isn't just as probably many of them think, us and

:00:36.:00:39.

our own self-interests at all, it is about the defence of the

:00:39.:00:45.

education system as a whole, that is what we are about. We argue it

:00:46.:00:50.

out in the studio with major protaganist. They know they are

:00:50.:00:55.

paid and have pensions and they are lucky to have a job at this time.

:00:55.:00:59.

We have been in one community affected, here we will speak to the

:00:59.:01:04.

headteacher who worked, and his teacher who didn't. Plus lessons

:01:04.:01:09.

from history. Our group of political insiders game play the

:01:09.:01:12.

future. Also tonight, could the opposition

:01:12.:01:18.

be gaining the upper hand in Syria. Another exclusive undercover report

:01:18.:01:27.

Good evening, today's strike action by a variety of public sector

:01:27.:01:31.

unions, in England and Wales, and including the PCS in Scotland, over

:01:31.:01:36.

pensions reform, involved a series of personal and political judgments

:01:36.:01:40.

by union members, particularly teachers. It also tested the metal

:01:40.:01:47.

of David Cameron and Ed Miliband. The Labour leader exoration to

:01:47.:01:50.

teachers not to take action has brought the wrath of union leaders

:01:50.:01:54.

on his head, while the Prime Minister has to decide whether to

:01:54.:01:56.

stand his ground or make concessions. As for the strikers,

:01:57.:02:03.

it is not clear where the public sympathy lies, the argument about

:02:03.:02:12.

fairness are still being played out. Plenty has changed since the anti-

:02:12.:02:15.

Government protests of the 1980s. At Lambeth Town Hall in south

:02:15.:02:21.

London, the red flag no longer flies. These days protestors seemed

:02:21.:02:24.

to have croissants for breakfast. But the anger at what the

:02:24.:02:31.

Government is doing is just the same as it was in the 80s. Thus

:02:31.:02:34.

fortified by French pastry and English rhetoric, this group of

:02:34.:02:38.

protestors moves off to join the many others converging on

:02:38.:02:43.

Westminster. Many of the marchers are teachers, judging by the number

:02:43.:02:52.

of whistles, PE teachers. Can I walk with you a second. You two or

:02:52.:02:56.

three don't look like dangerous radicals? No we are not. Are you

:02:56.:03:01.

teachers? Yes we are. Why have you come out today? Everything else is

:03:01.:03:05.

going up in price, we haven't had pay rise for two years, how are we

:03:05.:03:09.

supposed to survive. Some people in the private sector say they have

:03:09.:03:12.

the same problem with their passion and they don't have a pension

:03:12.:03:16.

anything like as good? We pay for our pension, it is not like

:03:16.:03:20.

somebody is giving it to us. But, goes the complaint of public sector

:03:20.:03:23.

workers, they are being asked to pay more and take reduced pensions

:03:23.:03:26.

even later. We are all independent school

:03:26.:03:30.

teachers, we are not in the Vanguard of the country's

:03:30.:03:33.

revolutionaries. You are not dressed as a revolutionary? I don't

:03:33.:03:37.

feel like one. You are angry? are angry, we feel let down,

:03:37.:03:41.

because, there has always been an understanding in teaching, that

:03:41.:03:45.

teachers are not paid an enormous amount, but they have a reasonable

:03:45.:03:49.

pension, it is a pension based on what you earn any way, it is never

:03:49.:03:52.

going to be huge. Other marchers clearly haven't come straight from

:03:52.:03:55.

the staff room. The police searched this group, perhaps they have had a

:03:56.:03:58.

tip-off, perhaps it is just because one of them looks like Colonel

:03:58.:04:03.

Gaddafi. Whatever the reason, they were all

:04:03.:04:10.

let go. This is one of the features of modern protests, everyone has a

:04:10.:04:16.

camera, we have got one, then they are filming the police, and over

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there, the police are filming everyone else.

:04:20.:04:24.

As much as it angers these people, the Government has said there is no

:04:24.:04:28.

alternative but to cut pensions. On Tuesday the Prime Minister made the

:04:28.:04:33.

case again, he said they were unaffordable. First, reform is

:04:33.:04:39.

essential, because we just cannot go on as we are. That's not because

:04:39.:04:44.

as some people say, public service pensions are ridiculously generous.

:04:44.:04:47.

In fact, around half of public service pensioners receive less

:04:47.:04:53.

than �6,000 a year. No, the reason we can't go on as we are, is

:04:53.:04:58.

because as the babyboomers retire, and thankfully, live longer, the

:04:58.:05:06.

pensions system is in danger of going broke. But is this true? Well

:05:06.:05:09.

according to Lord Hutton's public review, the cost of public sector

:05:09.:05:18.

pensions as a proportion of GDP is falling from 1.9% to 1.4% by 2060.

:05:18.:05:23.

This fall is partly only achieved by adapting one of the measures

:05:23.:05:27.

that these people are protesting about, but the other one, the

:05:27.:05:30.

increase in contributions they are being asking to make will cause the

:05:30.:05:34.

graph to fall even more. Why is the Government reforming pensions? One

:05:34.:05:38.

reason is fairness. Another is suggested by the terms of reference

:05:38.:05:43.

that the Government gave the independent pensions commission. It

:05:43.:05:53.
:05:53.:05:57.

In other words, it sees the relative generosity of public

:05:57.:06:01.

sector pensions as a problem in encouraging private sector

:06:01.:06:05.

providers in health and education. Meanwhile, for the Labour leader,

:06:05.:06:09.

Ed Miliband, there is a big problem. He can't openly disown the unions,

:06:09.:06:14.

nor can he fully support the strikes. Instead, he attacks the

:06:14.:06:18.

Government. These strikes are wrong, at a time when negotiations are

:06:18.:06:22.

still going on. But parents and the public have been let down by both

:06:22.:06:25.

sides because the Government has acted in a reckless and provocative

:06:25.:06:29.

manner. He was obviously very pleased with that line, either that

:06:29.:06:34.

or he didn't want to risk saying anything else. The Government has

:06:34.:06:38.

acted in a reckless and provocative manner. The Government has acted in

:06:38.:06:44.

a reckless and provocative manner. Parents and governors have been let

:06:44.:06:49.

down by both sides because the Government has acted in a reckless

:06:49.:06:53.

and provocative manner! Other public sector unions were on strike

:06:53.:06:56.

today, it is the teachers' action that the Government knows will have

:06:56.:07:01.

the most impact on family life. Ministers were desperate to keep

:07:01.:07:05.

schools open. The question is, of course, how many teachers have gone

:07:05.:07:08.

to work as normal today. As of lunchtime the Department for

:07:08.:07:11.

Education has given us these statistics, about quarter of

:07:11.:07:16.

schools, they say, are closed. Another quarter partially open,-

:07:16.:07:19.

and-a-quarter open. The remainder, they don't know about yet. We have

:07:19.:07:23.

to remember, of course, that one of the really big teachers' unions

:07:23.:07:27.

isn't taking industrial action today.

:07:27.:07:31.

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, was in one open school, if

:07:31.:07:39.

the kids there had missed out on day off, at least they could share

:07:39.:07:45.

an anecdote about his breakfast. had Cherrios for breakfast with my

:07:45.:07:50.

children, normally I have toast, but I needed extra energy today, so

:07:50.:07:55.

I had two bowls. Two bowls but one message? I feel disappointed people

:07:55.:07:58.

have decided to go out on strike today. I understand there are

:07:58.:08:01.

strong feelings about pensions, we want to ensure that everyone in the

:08:01.:08:05.

public sector, especially teachers, have decent pension, but I don't

:08:05.:08:10.

think it is a good idea to have gone out on strike today. With an

:08:11.:08:14.

aftermarch pint and a quick scrub for the streets, London gets back

:08:14.:08:18.

to normal. The question of public sector pensions is still far from

:08:18.:08:21.

tidy. I'm joined by the Treasury minister,

:08:21.:08:27.

Justine Greening, Labour would not put up a single frontbencher or

:08:27.:08:32.

backbencher, make what that - of that what you will. We are

:08:32.:08:41.

delighted to have Kitty Usher, from formally from the think-tank dem

:08:41.:08:44.

moss. David Cameron says pension teams

:08:44.:08:51.

are in danger of going bust, there is no evidence for that? Lord

:08:51.:08:55.

Hutton did report over this year and last year. His analysis is the

:08:55.:09:00.

current system is untenable. The reason he said that was when he

:09:00.:09:02.

looked at how public sector pensions were going to be

:09:02.:09:06.

affordable and sustainable over the next 50 years, he said there was a

:09:06.:09:10.

real risk they wouldn't be. That is why we needed to reform them. That

:09:10.:09:13.

is why we are talking with the unions about doing that now. David

:09:13.:09:17.

Cameron, let's be clear, was wrong to say the pension schemes are in

:09:17.:09:21.

danger of going broke. Nobody said that. I read the Hutton Report,

:09:21.:09:25.

nothing there suggests that? look at what has happened with

:09:25.:09:29.

public sector pensions in terms of what they cost the taxpayer in the

:09:29.:09:33.

last decade, they have risen by a third. It is percentage terms in

:09:33.:09:39.

terms of GDP, they would be falling from 1.9 to 1.4, in real terms,

:09:39.:09:45.

pensions in the future will cost less? As your earlier package

:09:45.:09:48.

pointed out, one of the reasons that is happening is the current

:09:48.:09:52.

reforms that we are talking about unions about how to implement now.

:09:52.:09:57.

These are very, difficult issues we have to sort out. For many people

:09:57.:10:01.

watching this in the private sector and had to go through it with their

:10:01.:10:04.

own companies, they know it is difficult too. We need to find a

:10:04.:10:08.

route that is fair by public sector workers, in making sure they have

:10:08.:10:13.

extremely good pension, but it is also fair by the taxpayer who is

:10:13.:10:17.

paying it. We will come on to the private-public sector split in a

:10:17.:10:21.

moment. Let's unpick what you said there. In terms of reform, what you

:10:21.:10:24.

are saying is what the Hutton Report recommended was based on,

:10:24.:10:29.

for example, CPI, but actually pensions would rise in line with

:10:29.:10:32.

the consumer price index, rather than the retail price index. He

:10:32.:10:37.

went on to say that, given that, these pensions, as they stand,

:10:37.:10:42.

would be affordable. Nowhere in the Hutton Report, at all, does he talk

:10:42.:10:46.

about the need for increased contributions to make it affordable.

:10:46.:10:51.

If the CPI is carried out, as a measure, that will be enough,

:10:51.:10:56.

nowhere at all does he talk about having to increase pension

:10:56.:10:59.

contributions, in order to reach the scheme that you want to reach?

:10:59.:11:04.

That is not actually correct, cirsity. In fact f you look at -

:11:04.:11:08.

Kirsty, in fact, if you look at what analysis went into the graph

:11:08.:11:12.

you showed earlier. No big increase in public sector contributions?

:11:12.:11:18.

you let me finish. It did have two element, one was the CPI and RPI

:11:18.:11:24.

shift, the other was also another piece that was going to be

:11:24.:11:28.

delivered by public sector pension reform. In fact, it was something

:11:28.:11:31.

the previous Government had also started looking at, prior to

:11:31.:11:36.

leaving office. That was all about trying to tackle this issue that

:11:36.:11:39.

the taxpayer couldn't be simply expected to keep on funding extra

:11:39.:11:46.

and extra requirements as people live longer. His graphs do not show

:11:46.:11:50.

that any big increase in public sector contributions to pensions

:11:50.:11:53.

are necessary, to reach affordability in the new scheme.

:11:53.:11:58.

The CPI, yes. And some increase, but not the big increases you are

:11:58.:12:02.

asking for at the moment? I think families who are paying an awful

:12:02.:12:06.

lot more to fund public sector pensions already will say actually

:12:06.:12:10.

there is issue...This Is really important? If I can finish

:12:10.:12:13.

answering one of your questions. You have answered that point, but

:12:13.:12:18.

what you are really talking about, isn't t you are dressing it up by

:12:18.:12:21.

saying that actually the Hutton independent commission really did

:12:21.:12:25.

want large increases, though it didn't say so. What you are

:12:25.:12:29.

actually talking about is not affordability, what you are talking

:12:29.:12:32.

about, and reasonably, is fairness? We're talking about a number of

:12:32.:12:35.

things. We are talking about making sure public sector pensions in the

:12:35.:12:40.

long-term are sustainable. That means, having public sector

:12:40.:12:44.

pensions that are fair by public sector workers, and will still be

:12:44.:12:48.

incredible strong pensions for them. But are also fair by tax-payers.

:12:48.:12:53.

There will be many people in their 30-somethings, watching this, this

:12:53.:12:57.

evening, who are problems even paying for their own pension, let

:12:57.:13:01.

alone anybody elses. What we have been doing with the unions is

:13:01.:13:04.

sitting down and talking to them about how we can strike the right

:13:04.:13:08.

balance by public sector workers and the rest of the tax-payers. The

:13:08.:13:11.

other point that Lord Hutton made, of course, he looked at that graph,

:13:11.:13:15.

what he said, first of all he said let's bear in mind we are

:13:15.:13:19.

projecting out 50 years here, there is some unreliability around the

:13:19.:13:23.

figures. Also, is it right to make a 50-year bet on whether these

:13:23.:13:26.

pension schemes are going to be sustainable. That is what he said,

:13:26.:13:31.

I think he's right. That is why we are better off, not putting our

:13:31.:13:34.

heads in the sand and pretending it will be fine. It is better to be

:13:34.:13:36.

responsible as a Government and working with the unions to find a

:13:36.:13:41.

real solution to this now. You may say that you have to have these

:13:41.:13:47.

large increase, but actually, nowhere, in Hutton, in the

:13:47.:13:51.

independent commission, did it say we needed large increases. Is it

:13:51.:13:54.

not the case in the terms of reference of the whole commission

:13:54.:13:58.

is the truth of it. Ideolgically, perfectly reason for the

:13:58.:14:02.

Conservatives to say that what he they want is to reduce the barrier

:14:02.:14:07.

for public sector work, going into private sector provision, because

:14:07.:14:12.

if pensions rise the increase will not be afforded if these jobs went

:14:12.:14:15.

to the private sector providers. That is what it is about? I don't

:14:15.:14:20.

think you are right. If that was the case...Why Not, it says clearly

:14:20.:14:24.

that is one of the aims that you had for the commission, perfectly

:14:24.:14:30.

reasonably? And one of the reasons that was one of our parts of what

:14:30.:14:33.

we wanted Lord Hutton to look at, because that was common sense. The

:14:33.:14:37.

point was about to make before you went into your next question was

:14:37.:14:40.

this cross-party consensus, really, that we need public sector reform

:14:40.:14:44.

and the question is making sure we can do it in fair way for everybody.

:14:44.:14:47.

That is what we want to sit down with the unions and sort out. What

:14:47.:14:51.

I would say is let's distinguish between that genuine problem, and

:14:51.:14:54.

then the second issue, which is whether the strikes we have had

:14:54.:14:58.

today will help us sort that out, and the answer is they are not.

:14:58.:15:02.

Let's raise that last point by Justine Greening, what you have

:15:02.:15:06.

done today helps not one jot? have been driven to what we have

:15:06.:15:09.

done today. We have never taken strike action for 127 years. I just

:15:09.:15:14.

have to comment on three things that Justine has said. What she has

:15:14.:15:17.

really laid bare and you have laid bare in the questioning is the

:15:17.:15:20.

complete dogs dinner of the Government's approach to this

:15:20.:15:23.

problem. We have David Cameron saying, and he did say, public

:15:23.:15:26.

service pensions are in danger of going broke, it is clear they are

:15:26.:15:31.

not. Then we had Michael Gove in the House on the same day saying,

:15:31.:15:34.

we need to reform public sector pensions because of the deficit,

:15:34.:15:41.

and the mess that Labour left the country in. Then we have the other

:15:41.:15:44.

ministers saying it has to be about longevity. They haven't got their

:15:44.:15:49.

ducks in a row about this. Let's be clear what Justine Greening is also

:15:49.:15:56.

saying, is you could have a private sector job, and a public sector job

:15:56.:16:01.

of roughly comparable salaries. Let's have an example, your driving

:16:01.:16:06.

instructor is a private sector, he has his own company, he earns a

:16:06.:16:11.

salary, your public sector workers earns the same, why should the

:16:11.:16:18.

examiner have 14% greater pension pot than - why should the examiner

:16:18.:16:24.

have the 14% greater pension pot than the private workers. Public

:16:24.:16:28.

sector work remembers paying contributions to their pensions.

:16:28.:16:33.

pays through his taxation? Public sector workers also pay taxes and

:16:33.:16:37.

contributions. We pay our taxes and contributions. Just let's deal with

:16:37.:16:41.

the issue of longevity, I have heard so much nonsense about this

:16:41.:16:45.

for so long. If teachers live longer then we have agreed, in the

:16:45.:16:49.

changes we made in 2007, that if there is extra contributions to be

:16:49.:16:53.

made for us living longer, we will pay them out of our wages. Kitty

:16:53.:17:02.

Usher, I'm not expecting you to be an apologyist for the Labour party

:17:02.:17:07.

who haven't got their ducks in a row either. What is the dilemma,

:17:07.:17:10.

unions striking today weren't affiliated, which is why Ed

:17:10.:17:13.

Miliband felt safer in making the criticism about it. What is Labour

:17:13.:17:17.

to do? I think the issue here is trade unions are fantastic, they

:17:17.:17:21.

have a really strong role to play in 21st century Britain, and

:17:22.:17:24.

everyone should join a trade union. There is nothing about being a

:17:25.:17:29.

trade unionist that means you necessarily have to be part of the

:17:29.:17:32.

Labour movement. Although I welcome the fact that they are part of the

:17:32.:17:37.

family. Was Ed Miliband right to criticise them for coming out on

:17:37.:17:41.

strike today? In the place he was in he had a choice of either

:17:41.:17:47.

looking like Red Ed, or being slightly more pragmatic.

:17:47.:17:52.

I think he did exactly the right thing. Do you think he was between

:17:52.:17:56.

a rock and hard place. The problem the Labour opposition don't oppose,

:17:56.:18:00.

they are mourning from being in Government. You say his remarks

:18:00.:18:04.

were disgraceful? To say nothing about public sector pensions and

:18:05.:18:07.

the negotiations up until about three days ago, and then to say the

:18:08.:18:12.

strike is a mistake. Then to invite a Labour leader of the opposition

:18:12.:18:16.

to advise people to go across picket lines, that is a disgrace.

:18:16.:18:20.

Trade unionism shouldn't just be about the labour Government, at

:18:20.:18:23.

Demos we are doing a Conservative project, looking at the role trade

:18:23.:18:27.

unions can play in supporting the Big Society, we need to understand

:18:28.:18:31.

they have a wider role, it doesn't need to be party political. The

:18:31.:18:35.

reason why Ed was right is that the real negotiating power that the

:18:35.:18:39.

unions have is over the timing of all of this. It is quite possible

:18:39.:18:43.

to have a long-term settlement about reforminging public sector

:18:43.:18:47.

pensions, that remove the break with final salary schemes, which is

:18:47.:18:52.

a good idea, having an average salary scheme, which supports lower

:18:52.:18:58.

paid people, and making sure we are able to get a better return for the

:18:58.:19:02.

taxpayer. It is an unfunded scheme, future generations pay. The problem

:19:02.:19:06.

is the Government is trying to score it in the next couple of

:19:06.:19:10.

years on the fiscal books to meet the cuts agenda. That is what you

:19:10.:19:14.

should be negotiated. That message hasn't come through with the strike.

:19:14.:19:18.

Part of the reason Ed Miliband said he wasn't supporting action is

:19:18.:19:22.

because negotiations are continuing. Here you both are, I'm not

:19:22.:19:25.

expecting a resolution on Newsnight, are you prepared to move on the

:19:25.:19:29.

level of increase and indeed the principle of increase? We have been

:19:29.:19:34.

in discussions with the unions for some time now, I think it is worth

:19:34.:19:37.

pointing out that although some unions were on strike today, there

:19:37.:19:45.

were an awful lot, including major ones like GMB, in fact, under half

:19:45.:19:52.

of the PCS unions were on strike too. We are prepared to continue

:19:52.:19:55.

having constructive talks with the unions, difficult issues, but we

:19:55.:20:00.

are convinced we can sit down and work together. I would say, at the

:20:00.:20:06.

end of the day, the strikes don't change what we have to do, what

:20:06.:20:10.

they Diamonds Will Do is make it harder for parents - do do is make

:20:10.:20:13.

it harder for parents to go out to work when they are looking after

:20:13.:20:18.

their children. We need to focus our energy and efforts on trying to

:20:18.:20:21.

find a solution to a difficult problem. I'm happy to negotiate,

:20:21.:20:25.

let me negotiate on these things, let me negotiate about the pension

:20:25.:20:28.

contribution increase, let me negotiate about the rise in the

:20:28.:20:31.

retirement age, let me negotiate about the move from final salary to

:20:31.:20:35.

career average, first of all, give me information. Give me the

:20:35.:20:39.

information, and give us the time to negotiate properly, don't say on

:20:39.:20:43.

all the key issues we are not going to negotiate.

:20:44.:20:48.

The Department of Education said that the strike action affected

:20:48.:20:52.

11,000 of the schools in England and Wales, of that number nearly

:20:53.:20:58.

6,000 shut entirely. And in a knock-on effect as parents

:20:58.:21:04.

scrambled to find childcare or had to take a day off work. There was

:21:04.:21:08.

schools where some teachers worked and some didn't. We went to

:21:08.:21:13.

Dartford to see how one school was affected. In a moment we will speak

:21:13.:21:18.

to a headteacher who worked and his too mucher who went on strike.

:21:18.:21:22.

- teacher who went on strike. While thousands of children are off

:21:22.:21:25.

school, these ones are having toast and jam at the school breakfast

:21:25.:21:31.

club, just like they always. Do only one teacher is striking here

:21:31.:21:34.

at OKfield Primary School, which is great news for these kids, they

:21:34.:21:38.

claimed they didn't want to have a day off any way. The teachers

:21:38.:21:42.

decided to come in and get us education. What do you think?

:21:42.:21:47.

Brilliant, excellent. My nan is always frustrated about it on the

:21:47.:21:52.

news, shouting on the telly about the cuts, she says it is bad for

:21:52.:21:55.

children, it should be kept open because of their education. They

:21:55.:21:59.

need it when they are older. This is not one of Kent's very best

:21:59.:22:02.

performing schools, they have had their fair share of problems in the

:22:02.:22:09.

past. They say they are improving year-on-year, the headteacher says

:22:09.:22:14.

to strike here at OKfield would fly in the face of everything they have

:22:14.:22:19.

achieved. Garry Ratcliffe is trying hard to turn around his school's

:22:19.:22:24.

fortunes, attendance is a huge issue here. This week alone he

:22:24.:22:30.

issued fines to six parents who kept their children out of school.

:22:30.:22:34.

To close the school for Daewoo send the wrong message to parents and

:22:34.:22:36.

children. At the same time I have to be clear that I would support

:22:36.:22:42.

any member of staff, any teacher in the unions that are striking.

:22:42.:22:46.

It is a very young work force here, which could explain the general

:22:46.:22:50.

apathy towards industrial action. This is a generation that hasn't

:22:50.:22:53.

grown up with a powerful trade union movement, and a generation

:22:53.:22:59.

that can ill afford to lose a day's wages. I look at the students,

:22:59.:23:02.

everything that happened there, that was chaos, have they changed

:23:02.:23:06.

the decision, no they haven't. We could go in our masses, and we

:23:06.:23:14.

could strike, and scream and shout, but, you know, it doesn't matter

:23:14.:23:19.

what we are going to do, they will make the decisions. What will make

:23:19.:23:22.

the Government listen? If every teacher would go on strike, perhaps

:23:22.:23:26.

they would start to listen, who knows. What made one teacher break

:23:26.:23:34.

rank and go on strike the? It goes towards proect iting the

:23:34.:23:36.

integrity of the teaching profession. We want to traict the

:23:36.:23:41.

best people to teaching. We want to - attract the best people to

:23:41.:23:45.

teaching and keep experienced teachers in the profession. I know

:23:45.:23:49.

it is hard for parents and I do feel sympathy for them, I hope they

:23:49.:23:54.

understand. He might be a lone voice at the school. But across the

:23:54.:23:58.

rest of Kent 200 schools were caught up in the strikes. This is

:23:58.:24:04.

Chatham, the teachers here aren't quite as resigned to the status quo

:24:04.:24:07.

as in Dartford, they are undeterred by colleagues who aren't on strike,

:24:07.:24:12.

they say it is just the beginning. The lesson I'm giving my students

:24:12.:24:16.

today is the best I could give this year, I don't have to be there.

:24:16.:24:19.

About 100 people came to the Hustings, this man says it is a

:24:19.:24:22.

good turnout. What about the thousand who is chose to stay in

:24:22.:24:26.

the classroom. We have a lot of young teachers in the profession

:24:26.:24:29.

these days, for them this is something entirely new, they are

:24:29.:24:31.

not familiar with this kind of thing. They are not familiar with

:24:31.:24:36.

the arguments we are making, they are very dedkaited, often their

:24:36.:24:44.

heads are down, - dedicated, they have heads down and into their work.

:24:44.:24:48.

Hopefully we can convince them of the merits of the case and we will

:24:48.:24:51.

see more people supporting the strike next time. They haven't

:24:51.:24:55.

convinced all the parents. I have two children at school, one at

:24:55.:24:58.

secondary and one at junior, both schools have closed, I have had to

:24:58.:25:02.

take the day off. It is annoying, I won't get paid. It is wrong, they

:25:02.:25:06.

know their pay and pensions and really they are lucky to have work

:25:06.:25:10.

at the moment. Although it has inconvienced me for the day, I

:25:10.:25:15.

fully accept it, I fully agree with what they are doing. There is

:25:15.:25:19.

definitely sympathy out there for the teachers, but this is, afterall,

:25:19.:25:23.

a one-day strike, if there are many more like it, the question remains,

:25:23.:25:29.

how long will the sympathy last. Joining me now are two of the

:25:29.:25:33.

teachers from OKfield Primary School, the headteacher, Garry

:25:33.:25:37.

Ratcliffe, who didn't strike, and the year three teacher, Richard

:25:37.:25:41.

Moore, who did. Garry Ratcliffe, was there any doubt in your mind as

:25:41.:25:47.

to whether you should strike? doubt. I'm a member of the NAHT,

:25:47.:25:50.

that wasn't striking today any way. When I joined the profession and

:25:50.:25:56.

when I became a head, I made assurances to my governors and my

:25:56.:25:59.

parent body, and my colleagues, my teachers that the children would

:25:59.:26:03.

always come first. There are plenty of reasons for being in a union, so

:26:03.:26:08.

right at the very beginning, when you joined the union, it was on the

:26:08.:26:13.

basis that you would never take strike action? Absolutely, for me I

:26:13.:26:18.

really feel passionate that we should keep the school open for the

:26:18.:26:21.

children and our community. Doesn't that let down some of your

:26:21.:26:25.

colleagues, who are perhaps not in the position of headteacher, whose

:26:25.:26:30.

salaries are much lower than your's, and who face, as it stands, the

:26:30.:26:33.

possibility that they will be paying much higher pension

:26:33.:26:39.

contributions and having a stand still pay? I do sympathise with all

:26:39.:26:42.

teachers, as I discussed with my colleagues today, I'm paying a

:26:42.:26:46.

pension as well, my contributions would be going up as well. I would

:26:46.:26:50.

support any teacher in my school going out on strike. In the end you

:26:50.:26:54.

were the only teacher in the school that went out on strike, what was

:26:54.:26:57.

the conversation with your colleagues like? I spoke to a lot

:26:57.:27:00.

of colleagues about going on strike and gave my reasons for them. We

:27:00.:27:04.

have a friendly staff in the school, and there was no animosity or any

:27:04.:27:07.

debate about whether we should go on strike. I firmly believe the

:27:07.:27:10.

people who work at the school are educated people themselves, they

:27:10.:27:14.

have read all about it, they know the issues, it was their choice to

:27:14.:27:17.

go on strike or not. It was my choice to go on strike. What was

:27:17.:27:22.

the tipping point for you? tipping point was generally the

:27:22.:27:25.

Government's intransigence, they didn't seem to want to negotiate on

:27:25.:27:28.

any of the key issues, I feel a little bit let down by a Government,

:27:28.:27:31.

an elected Government that doesn't seem to want to negotiate. I

:27:31.:27:35.

believe they have made the decisions as to what's going to

:27:35.:27:38.

happen with the teachers' pensions, there is no negotiation with it.

:27:38.:27:42.

From what I have been reading and have heard, the only discussion is

:27:42.:27:46.

how it will be implemented, I don't think that is fair. You are coming

:27:46.:27:49.

towards the end of term, it is possible strike action if there

:27:50.:27:53.

isn't a resolution might continue in autumn, would you come out

:27:53.:27:55.

again? That depends heavily on the Government's position. I think

:27:55.:28:01.

between now and then, I do think there are issues with the pension

:28:01.:28:04.

scheme that need to be resolved, I think the Government need to talk

:28:04.:28:08.

to the teaching body about those things. If there was action in the

:28:08.:28:12.

autumn and the Government positions hadn't changed and they were still

:28:12.:28:16.

in this position of not changing, I would vote for a strike, yes. Again,

:28:16.:28:20.

it is a very, very difficult decision to go on strike. You are

:28:20.:28:24.

now in a school which has been turned round, I think, by your own

:28:24.:28:27.

endeavours and the endeavours of your teachers, you are presumably

:28:27.:28:32.

held in higher regard by the parents, do you think more broadly

:28:32.:28:36.

there will be an issue if striking teachers are seen out on the

:28:36.:28:41.

streets? Our parents are very supportive of the whole teaching

:28:41.:28:45.

body, and I think they would listen to the teachers, I think they would

:28:45.:28:51.

sympathise, I think even within our own parent body there is a wide

:28:51.:28:56.

variety of opinion already, some fully supportive of teachers going

:28:56.:28:59.

on strike, and some saying thank you for keeping the school open.

:28:59.:29:04.

More broadly, the profession itself, if it was prolonged action, might

:29:04.:29:10.

be called into disrepute? No. is interesting, if it don't be and

:29:10.:29:18.

if you see as intransigence in the Government, as you would see it,

:29:18.:29:22.

coming towards the autumn and teachers becoming more

:29:22.:29:24.

disillusioned, would you see it as something you would support?

:29:24.:29:28.

support it already. But not take part in it? I won't take part in it.

:29:28.:29:31.

Is there a danger you are undermining your position? I'm not

:29:31.:29:37.

undermining their position, I will support Richard and any other

:29:37.:29:41.

teacher that decides to strike, we have a fantastic teaching staff

:29:41.:29:44.

working together for the good of the community, if three, five, ten

:29:44.:29:48.

of them want to strike. I will examine the position of the school

:29:48.:29:52.

each time there is industrial action.

:29:52.:29:55.

We discussed the political implications of the strike in a few

:29:55.:30:00.

minutes with our political panel. First, in Syria, opposition leaders

:30:01.:30:06.

have set up a National Coordination Committee, uniting figures inside

:30:06.:30:13.

the country and those outside. The unrest is entering the next four

:30:13.:30:19.

months, the opposition looks like it is being successful in

:30:19.:30:23.

controlling four cities. Sue Lloyd Roberts, has been undercover, and

:30:23.:30:27.

explains how co-operation between activists inside and outside the

:30:27.:30:33.

country have helped keep the revolution alive. This report

:30:33.:30:39.

contains graphic images. Pictures show clashes between

:30:39.:30:43.

protestors and security forces and there have been more deaths. This

:30:43.:30:49.

is going on in Syria for weeks now. We received these pictures on

:30:49.:30:52.

YouTube within hours of it taking place. It is a sign the opposition

:30:52.:30:56.

is getting better organised, and the skill of those who are

:30:56.:31:01.

literally advertising this uprising. TRANSLATION: Demonstrations started

:31:01.:31:08.

when people saw what happened in Deraa and ban yos. People saw the

:31:08.:31:14.

videos that were uploaded, this is just a small part. Perhaps 5% of

:31:14.:31:20.

what is really happening in Syria. What's happening in Syria is much

:31:20.:31:25.

more terrifying. The first time they responded by firing at us. The

:31:25.:31:30.

security forces provoked the protestors, they took up firing

:31:30.:31:36.

positions, they pointed their guns at the protestors. Some of the

:31:36.:31:43.

young men bared their chests and said if you are a man, fire.

:31:43.:31:46.

They faced them with their chests bared, they are not worth more than

:31:46.:31:52.

the people of Tehran. We shall die as they died. We are seekers of

:31:52.:31:57.

freedom. The protest and the coverage

:31:57.:32:03.

require co-ordination. In the capital, Damascus, must taf FA

:32:03.:32:11.

shows how they - Mustafa shows how they share it between the

:32:11.:32:14.

protestors. They are the co- ordinators and advocates who

:32:14.:32:18.

promote what they are doing on the ground. Sometimes I go and monitor

:32:18.:32:21.

the protests, for example, driving my car to go there, and I just

:32:21.:32:29.

watch myself what is going on there. Then I report this to some of the

:32:29.:32:33.

news agencies or channels, I would publish everything I see,

:32:33.:32:39.

everything I get on a page I'm running on Facebook, it is called

:32:39.:32:43.

"monitoring protests in Syria". Many of the early activists were

:32:43.:32:47.

known to the authorities. They had to flee to neighbouring Lebanon, to

:32:47.:32:53.

join a growing number of Syrian exiles who work as advocates abroad.

:32:53.:32:58.

Like these two, who now upload the material as it arrives from Syria,

:32:58.:33:08.
:33:08.:33:34.

check it, and vitally, distribute He then contacts journalists and

:33:34.:33:39.

human rights organisations with the latest news on fatalities, and who

:33:39.:33:49.
:33:49.:34:28.

From shaky beginnings, the pictures and the coverage have become faster,

:34:28.:34:37.

and more daring. Spreading the information, and the uprising. In

:34:37.:34:42.

the beginning, in Deraa, people were only asking for reform. The

:34:42.:34:46.

brutal response to modest demands, and the images, widely distributed,

:34:46.:34:49.

has seen the uprising spread throughout the country, with the

:34:49.:34:55.

call for the end of the regime. Media watchers of an older

:34:55.:34:59.

generation in Syria called it nothing less than a political and

:34:59.:35:06.

reporting revolution. TRANSLATION: Professional journalists who work

:35:06.:35:12.

in the field here, suffer huge restrictions and an inability to

:35:12.:35:17.

move and communicate freely. We believe these young people, who I

:35:17.:35:21.

call citizen journalist, have changed that fact. They have set

:35:21.:35:25.

information free, they have spread it and erased the silence imposed

:35:25.:35:35.
:35:35.:35:37.

Recently there has been a discernable change in the pictures

:35:37.:35:43.

coming out. It shows demonstrators gaining in confidence, an almost

:35:43.:35:47.

carnival atmosphere. It is too early to conclude that the tide is

:35:48.:35:52.

turning in favour of the protestors. But it does appear that Government

:35:52.:35:56.

troops are overstretched. It could be that there are now so many

:35:57.:36:00.

demonstrations, that they haven't got the means to respond to them

:36:00.:36:06.

all with guns. Sue Lloyd Roberts. We return to

:36:06.:36:10.

today's strike action, discussed with our regular panel of political

:36:10.:36:14.

insiders how they think it will all play out. First, banner-waving

:36:14.:36:18.

strikers, marching in the streets, chants, rallies, all of an echo of

:36:18.:36:26.

a not so distant time, when struggle and strive were part -

:36:26.:36:36.
:36:36.:36:39.

strike were part of a not too Back in 1974, strikes by dockers

:36:39.:36:43.

and miners had an impact on the whole population. There were power

:36:43.:36:47.

cuts and a three-day week. It also brought down the Conservative

:36:47.:36:50.

Government. Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea for Edward Heath to go

:36:50.:36:54.

to the country asking who governs Britain. The answer came back, not

:36:54.:36:56.

you. Labour claimed to have a better

:36:56.:37:01.

relationship with the unions, but attempts to strike a deal over pay

:37:01.:37:07.

collapsed, leading to the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978. Waves of

:37:07.:37:13.

strikes by lorry drivers, refuse collectors and grave diggers, left

:37:13.:37:17.

rubbish on the streets and bodies unburied, and led to the defeat of

:37:17.:37:20.

the Callaghan Government the next year. Don't run down your country

:37:20.:37:25.

by talking about mounting chaos. Margaret Thatcher promised a fresh

:37:25.:37:29.

start, and union reform. Where there is discord, may we bring

:37:29.:37:34.

harmony. But five years later another strike

:37:34.:37:38.

by miners pitched the Government into a year-long battle with the

:37:38.:37:43.

union. This time Arthur Scargill was the loser.

:37:43.:37:46.

Industrial action after Tony Blair came to power returned, but it

:37:46.:37:52.

caused little disruption compared with the disputes of the 70s and

:37:52.:37:57.

80s. Union membership has halved since 1979, it is doubtful the

:37:57.:38:03.

disruption could ever rocket to 70s' levels again, but how high are

:38:03.:38:08.

the stakes as Britain faces the prospect of large scale disruption

:38:08.:38:14.

and unrest for the first time in years. I'm joined by Finkelstein,

:38:14.:38:20.

from the Times, formerly an aide, and Deborah Mattinson from Britain

:38:20.:38:22.

Thinks, almost a former pollster to Gordon Brown.

:38:22.:38:27.

First of all, let's quickly deal with Ed Miliband's position today?

:38:28.:38:31.

It's a nightmare for an opposition, an unpredictable issue. I really

:38:31.:38:36.

feel for him. If he goes against it, and then the strikes turn out to be

:38:37.:38:41.

a real success, he has obviously opposed his own members in their

:38:41.:38:44.

successful action. If he goes with it and the Government don't go with

:38:45.:38:52.

him, he will end up looking like someone who request run the country.

:38:52.:38:58.

The one thing he can't do, and I'm afraid he has done, is not choose.

:38:58.:39:01.

You can't say strikes are wrong because they are still negotiating,

:39:01.:39:04.

you either think they are right because of the issue or they are

:39:04.:39:07.

wrong. He has to choose. Even though I'm sympathetic to him

:39:07.:39:11.

because it is difficult to choose and correctly, politically that is.

:39:11.:39:17.

Do you agree? I certainly agree, if there is one job that is worse

:39:17.:39:20.

being a leader of the opposition, is a Labour leader of the

:39:20.:39:23.

opposition with an industrial dispute. Especially if you are one

:39:24.:39:30.

criticised for being in the pockets of the union. None of these are

:39:30.:39:35.

affiliated? Absolutely, I think he was very mindful of the Red Ed

:39:35.:39:40.

tag's crafted his words. I agree with Danny, he ended up dancing on

:39:40.:39:44.

the head of a pin. And not, actually, putting out a clear

:39:44.:39:48.

position, not really saying where he stood. I think you have to be

:39:48.:39:53.

very true at this point to what you fundamentally believe. My suspicion

:39:53.:39:58.

is that he supports the strikes, but he feels that it's politically

:39:58.:40:01.

untenable. Whether or not that is the case, that is what people will

:40:01.:40:06.

think. That is what people will think. Therefore, it smax of a kind

:40:06.:40:10.

of slight - smacks of a kind of slight lack of truthfulness. But he

:40:10.:40:13.

is in an incredibly difficult position. For once what we are

:40:13.:40:16.

having from the Labour Party is a sense that it is complex and there

:40:16.:40:19.

is no simple answer. For the last seven months what we have heard

:40:19.:40:23.

from the Labour Party is it is incredibly simple, don't do this,

:40:23.:40:27.

don't do that. This, at least, is the Labour Party saying this issue

:40:27.:40:30.

is complicated. The Labour Party might be saying this issue is

:40:30.:40:35.

complicated, but nobody is actually prepared to come and say, this is a

:40:35.:40:38.

complicated issue? Having said that, this is also an opportunity, he

:40:38.:40:42.

could say I'm my own man, not guided by the trade union, I will

:40:42.:40:45.

be clear, independent and decisive, and come out against the strikes,

:40:45.:40:50.

and come out against the demand, which are, effectively, a sectional

:40:50.:40:53.

demand against the community interest. There is a sense at the

:40:53.:40:58.

moment he's sitting on the fence, he with do that or the other way.

:40:58.:41:01.

What would Tony Blair have done? think Tony Blair would have handled

:41:01.:41:05.

it very differently. I think Tony Blair probably would have been

:41:05.:41:09.

critical of the unions, and possibly been able to do that with

:41:09.:41:12.

more conviction. I think there is a slightly different point to make

:41:12.:41:16.

here, actually. I think the missed opportunity, I don't know if it

:41:16.:41:20.

will be missed forever, but at the moment, is the opportunity for Ed

:41:20.:41:24.

Miliband to present Labour as the party that stands up for great

:41:24.:41:29.

public services, and to frame what's happening now in this that

:41:29.:41:34.

context, that is not happening. you have written today, that this

:41:34.:41:39.

is actually a possible disaster, really, for the coalition? I just

:41:39.:41:42.

objected to the idea, that because Margaret Thatcher defeated the

:41:42.:41:46.

miners, that all Government also now defeat unions. Historically

:41:46.:41:50.

that hasn't been the case. There is every reason to think that if the

:41:50.:41:53.

teachers manage to go out over and over again, people will decide that

:41:53.:41:57.

they can't put up with the nuisance and wonder why the Government

:41:57.:42:01.

hasn't settled. Apart from my own view, I robustly think the

:42:01.:42:04.

Government is correct on this. Looking at it politically it could

:42:04.:42:09.

happen like that. It ends up being a battle for the survival between

:42:09.:42:15.

the unions and the coalition. It is pretty apocalyptic? The unions will

:42:15.:42:19.

behave in a national cirriculum will make people say why are they

:42:19.:42:23.

behave - in a fashion that will make people say they are behaving

:42:23.:42:27.

that way they must have a point. With trade unions, in terms of the

:42:27.:42:31.

pensions issue, right now, people are broadly on the unions' side,

:42:31.:42:36.

rather than the Government's side. The language that this has been

:42:36.:42:41.

couched in today, and we should just talk about this for a minute.

:42:41.:42:44.

This language, this reluctance of Justine Greening to say, yes it is

:42:44.:42:50.

about fairness, we want to be able to put public sector work out to

:42:50.:42:54.

multiple providers because the danger of the pension hikes, that

:42:54.:42:58.

is perfectly reasonable position to take, they keep going on about

:42:58.:43:01.

affordability, going broke? There is an issue of affordability, David

:43:01.:43:05.

Cameron talked about the risk of going broke. That is exactly the

:43:05.:43:09.

right word "the risk" is the critical thing, the Government will

:43:09.:43:13.

pick up the downside risk. There are complicated argument about the

:43:13.:43:17.

future of pensions you could get lost in. People do understand

:43:17.:43:19.

public expenditure is too high, we have to get it down. This is part

:43:20.:43:23.

of the reason why it is too high. This is the position of the Liberal

:43:23.:43:29.

Democrats, which is last zooed to the Conservatives over this, -

:43:29.:43:33.

lasooed to the Conservatives. there is a critical danger at the

:43:34.:43:38.

moment, we have seen this with Ed Miliband's position, where there is

:43:38.:43:42.

a chasam being created between the private and public sector, what was

:43:42.:43:45.

amazing over the last two or three years, is everyone in the private

:43:45.:43:49.

sector, especially in consultancy, pursued the public opinion, because

:43:49.:43:52.

that is the way of making it through the recession. Now there

:43:52.:43:56.

are chasams opening up, they are dangerous. In a funny sort of way

:43:57.:44:01.

the coalition does well by voicing that chasam, but I think there are

:44:01.:44:04.

long-term consequences to that. Liberal Democrats, presumably have

:44:04.:44:09.

lost the public sector vote? It is very serious, who knows about it,

:44:09.:44:11.

we speculate on every programme at work, how many votes the Liberal

:44:12.:44:15.

Democrats have lost, I'm sure we will go on doing that for the next

:44:15.:44:17.

four years, within a stable coalition, which will continue for

:44:17.:44:21.

the next four years. There is a much bigger problem for the

:44:21.:44:25.

Government, made much worse by this, that people don't know what it is

:44:25.:44:29.

for, there is no overarching positive narrative, if you say to

:44:29.:44:32.

people in focus groups, what the Government is about, they say it is

:44:32.:44:36.

just about cuts, that is all they know? I think that what is

:44:36.:44:40.

happening at the moment will just reinforce that. It is a real

:44:40.:44:46.

problem. I think they do think that, agree it is a problem. On the other

:44:46.:44:50.

hand that is itself a narrative, it is a narrative lots of people can

:44:50.:44:53.

support f the Government sticks to it and doesn't move from it can win

:44:53.:44:58.

a lot of support behind it. Do you think there will also be an impact

:44:58.:45:02.

with the high street almost shutting up. Thorntons Jane Norman,

:45:02.:45:06.

shop after shop, the physical impact of the recession hitting

:45:06.:45:14.

them, thinking we have to be careful here. Thornton's isn't the

:45:14.:45:17.

only shop on the high street, but of course this is a rough period,

:45:17.:45:20.

we have discussed this a lot. You have a combination of inflation,

:45:20.:45:26.

you are keeping wages low. Of course, there is also a particular

:45:26.:45:30.

squeeze on public sector workers. lot of stuff has been taken out of

:45:30.:45:34.

the long grass, lots of issues you have to look at if you are going to

:45:34.:45:37.

set the finances in m the right direction. If it is tuition fees

:45:37.:45:41.

and long-term care for the elderly, if it is not public sector pensions,

:45:41.:45:44.

all of these have to be considered in the whole. Where is this going,

:45:44.:45:48.

do you think, will it head into the autumn, or do you think there will

:45:48.:45:52.

be a bigger stage in negotiation between now and the autumn?

:45:52.:45:57.

knows? I think that's, at the moment, the public opinion is

:45:57.:46:02.

broadly on the unions side, but unions are not great at making

:46:02.:46:07.

their case. I don't agree with that, I really don't. It does, in terms,

:46:07.:46:11.

if you ask people do they support changes to public sector pension

:46:11.:46:16.

that is are being proposed, there is a 10% lead for people saying, no,

:46:16.:46:19.

rather than yes. In terms of whether or not the union should

:46:19.:46:28.

strike then it is 50-50. She's right. If the unions don't present

:46:28.:46:31.

themselves well it may change. Negotiation is more real than some

:46:31.:46:35.

of the starker opinions on either side of the argument are making out

:46:35.:46:39.

at the moment. That's all from Newsnight tonight.

:46:39.:46:44.

There is royal fever in Canada where the Duke and Duchess of

:46:44.:46:49.

Cambridge have arrived for their overseas tour. There are will you

:46:49.:46:55.

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