2011 could be a decisive year for teacher trade unionists. Are we going to let our national conditions and pensions be slashed? Or are we going to take action to make the Government think again?
November’s NUT Executive agreed unanimously that we prepare a campaigning timetable building up to a ballot for strike action in the spring term to defend pensions.
But December’s meeting put off any final decisions until the next National Executive on 20 January. Since then, the UCU lecturers’ union have confirmed that they will be balloting their members for pensions action in March. Surely we can’t miss this opportunity to follow the students’ action with a complete shutdown of schools and colleges in a united defence of our pensions? We should show our strength and make Hutton back-off before he issues his final Commission Report in late March.
December's Executive took some important steps - asking NUT Divisions to carry out a ‘clean-up’ of their membership records ready for the ballot & agreeing the vote would be for ‘discontinuous’ action - not just a one day strike.
However, some on the Executive are still not confident - and they’ll be looking at the results of an e-mail survey on the pensions campaign being sent to NUT members from January 6th. Please send it back - giving your support for strike action - so that the whole Executive can be in doubt what needs to be done.
10 REASONS WHY IT’S TIME TO ACT:
1. Around £100 a month will be stolen from your salary. Pension contributions could go up from 6.4% to 10% of salary. That’s on top of a ‘pay freeze’ while inflation rises.
2. £70,000 more may be robbed from you over your retirement. The switch from RPI to the CPI will hugely cut your total pension income during your retirement.
3. Yet more money could go in a new ‘career-average’ scheme. Hutton is cooking up yet more ways of cutting our pensions. We need action to warn him off.
4. You might be 68 before you get your (cut) pension in full. Normal pension age may go up to 65 for all - or even higher to match the rising state pension age.
5. If you choose to retire ‘early’ at 60, you’ll lose £1,000s. Retiring at 60 - or even 62 - would then count as ‘early retirement’ so that you would lose your full entitlement.
6. Our pension scheme costs are falling. This is just robbery. Hutton’s own figures confirm our scheme is affordable. Why should teachers’ pensions be cut to pay off the bankers’ gambling debts?
7. Most teachers are women - but they could be hardest hit. Women are most likely to have breaks in pensionable service - and to live longer too.
8. We have a good pensions scheme - let’s keep it that way. If you’re feeling the squeeze already, don’t opt out of your pension - fight to defend it.
9. The threat of action made the last Government retreat. Joint campaigns in 2005-6 forced Labour to retreat from most of its pension attacks.
10. Strike action can make this Government think again too. The Con-Dems are unpopular and divided. Firm trade union action can defend our pensions.