The campaign to defend teachers’ pensions is reaching a decisive stage. The Government have had to recognise that unions are ready to act to oppose their plans to make us PAY MORE, to get LESS PENSION and then have to RETIRE OLDER.
On the one hand, they are sabre-rattling about “which schools have a high proportion of NUT staff ...if they go on strike we will be prepared” (The Independent 22.2.11). But, behind the bluster, they know that they could not break our action.
On the other hand, they have opened talks with unions to see if a settlement can be reached. However, they may just be playing for time. They haven’t yet shown any wish to seriously negotiate.
George Osborne has now said that final decisions about increased contributions (perhaps £100 extra from our pay) will be postponed until June. However, they have so far refused to remove the proposed £2.8 billion savings from that extra 'stealth tax' on public sector workers from March’s Budget. Unless that is withdrawn, there is no room for negotiation - unions would just be left to agree exactly how that pay cut will be applied.
They have also refused to withdraw the changes from the RPI to the lower CPI inflation index. Nor have they postponed publication of the second Hutton Report - due out around March 7th - which may well contain further threats of an increased retirement age & worse‘career-average’ pensions.
An article in the Times (Feb 24) revealed the true Government agenda. In order to privatise schools and other public services, businesses don’t want to have to pay the costs of decent pensions. It states that a public sector pension of £20,000 might be cut to just £6,000 in a private scheme.
The NUT, alongside other unions, is prepared to discuss with Ministers. However, if the Government won't withdraw the budget savings and other threats from the table, we have to conclude that we have to proceed with plans for strike action.
Every Association, and every member needs to get ready for a ballot for strike action. Start by making sure that your membership details - including current workplace & home address are up to date.
February’s NUT NUT Executive concluded that we can give it no longer than Annual Conference before making a final decision over balloting for a programme of strike action. That would hopefully start with a joint union national strike next term. A special priority motion will be put to our Easter Conference so that delegates can decide.
We do not expect to be alone in taking such a decision if talks with the Government fail to make progress. Discussions between the teaching unions - and other public sector unions like the UCU and PCS - are ongoing. Together, we must show Ministers that we’re not going to allow them to get away with their pensions robbery.