At a sub-committee before today's NUT National Executive meeting, a paper was circulated confirming the next round of teachers' pension contribution increases being proposed by the DfE for April 2013. For an Inner London teacher like me, it would mean a combined monthly cut in gross pay of £140 since these pension changes were imposed.
We always knew that yet more pensions robbery was on its way but, particularly for Inner London teachers paid on a higher rate to allow for the cost of living in the capital, it's even worse than expected. The new tiering proposed means that a UPS3 teacher in Inner London (like me), having already seen contribution rates rise from 6.4% to 8.0% in 2012, will have to pay a staggering 10.1 % of their salary in pension contributions in 2013 - with the final instalment of contribution increases still to come in 2014. (All this, of course, for a worse pension and a retirement age rising to 68 or more...)
We cannot let these pension attacks be imposed without a fight. Regrettably, there was nothing concrete yet to report to follow up the last NEC's decision to urgently speak to the NASUWT and other TUC affiliates about confirming plans for co-ordinated action. Those talks are still ongoing. However, I could not allow this latest threat to go without making our opposition clear, and therefore proposed the motion below, seconded by Outer London NEC member, Nick Grant.
The motion was carried without opposition:
In continuing our discussions with the NASUWT and other TUC affiliates, the Union will point out that the DfE’s proposed further increases in pension contributions for April 2013 confirm the further losses in income that will be imposed on teachers, on top of a continued pay freeze. These losses are one of the reasons why we are seeking to explore the practicalities of a co-ordinated programme of strike action on pay, pensions and jobs.
The NEC notes that the DfE’s proposals will have a particular impact on many teachers paid on London pay spines. A UPS3 member in Inner London would see contributions rising from 8.0% to 10.1%, resulting in a £79 per month gross pay cut from April 2013, on top of the £60 loss in 2012. The NEC notes with concern that this risks increasing the disappointment of those London members who took an additional day of strike action in March 2012 in the expectation of further action being taken in opposition to the threats to teachers’ pensions.
The NEC also agrees that the Union should continue to make clear to the DfE our objections to these increases for all teachers and their disproportionate impact on London teachers.
But our objections and arguments alone will make no difference to this Government. We need to take firm and decisive action. The next NEC meeting in December needs to set clear plans for co-ordinated action to defend pensions - and to oppose the impending threats to pay from the Review Body report which is now in the hands of Michael Gove.
UPDATE: ONLY 9 LABOUR MPs VOTE AGAINST THE PENSIONS BILL
In another sign of the desperate lack of decent political representation for trade unionists, the Second Reading of the Government’s Pensions Bill - enshrining in law all their attacks - not least the increase in retirement age to 68 and more - passed through Parliament last month with just 9 Labour MPs prepared to vote against it.
As Christine Blower pointed out to the NUT Executive, the Bill also includes wording that runs a coach and horses through the supposed “25 year ‘guarantee'" that persuaded some unions that they had somehow won a good ‘deal’ in signing up to the Government’s proposals. Perhaps now, they might still think again?