December’s meeting of the National Executive took another step towards the national action that we will need to protect teachers' pensions.
The November NUT Executive had unanimously agreed that we should prepare a campaigning timetable building up to a ballot for strike action in the spring term - with the aim of convincing the Government that they must think again about their plans to make us:
PAY MORE : We could be charged 3.5% more from our pay. That would be 10% of our monthly pay taken for pensions - on top of a 2-year pay freeze!
WORK LONGER: We might all be forced to work until 65 - or even older - to claim a full pension.
GET LESS: Changing the way pensions are index-linked for inflation and introducing ‘career-average’ schemes would both mean we get less in pensions.
After hearing teachers at meetings in Lewisham, Hackney and Wandsworth all give firm support for strike action on pensions, I was disappointed that some NUT Executive members did not feel that we could yet set a firm timetable for strike action. Instead, we agreed to postpone final decisions until January, leaving time for further discussions on the Executive - and with other trade unions.
As I said at the meeting, I am happy to wait if it helps convince others - within and outside of the NUT - that teachers need to take strike action on pensions. However, we would not be forgiven if we delayed action until it was too late. We need to show our strength BEFORE the Government has finalised its plans - and make them think again!
We all agreed to make the most of the time until January’s meeting. NUT Divisions should start by carrying out a ‘clean-up’ of their membership records ready for the ballot. Surveys and meetings will be arranged to test the mood of members and to publicise the campaign. Further meetings will be held to seek co-ordinated action with other unions.
Above all, we agreed that different options for ballot timetables - leading to action starting either before or after Easter - would be discussed in January. The ballot would be for ‘discontinuous’ action - not just for a single day’s strike - so that we can prepare for an ongoing campaign of action.
Stealing the Future from our Students
While we met for the Executive in Lincolnshire, it seems that enough Liberal MPs were prepared to break their election pledges to vote through the tuition fee rises. Other Con-Dem cuts to the EMA and to School Sports Partnerships are all part of a shameful attack on the pupils we teach. Teachers, pupils & parents must continue to campaign together to oppose these cuts - and to expose the politicians who are voting for them.