Teachers in the NUT and ATL unions have voted in favour of taking strike action over changes to pensions.
92% of NUT and 83% of ATL members voted yes – a huge mandate for action, especially for ATL, which has not been on strike since the 1960s.
These are the first of the unions balloting for action on 30th June to declare – PCS results are expected later this week, whilst Unison – who are balloting council workers in Birmingham for 2 days of strikes – will come next week.
The unions say the pensions changes will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire. Contributions to the scheme will rise, by up to £1,250 / year for teachers, whilst the retirement age will be increased and pensions payments reduced, firstly by moving from RPI to CPI to calculate increases, and secondly by changing from a final salary scheme to a career average scheme.
At our public meeting on May 26th, Doug Morgan from NUT spoke about public sector pensions, debunking some of the myths surrounding “gold-plated” pensions. The average public sector pension is around £4,000 per year. He also argued that the only thing maintaining private sector pensions (which he described as awful) were the public sector pensions (described as OK).
Doug will be speaking at the Stockland Green Against the Cuts meeting on Wednesday (tomorrow). If you live in North Birmingham, why not go along and hear first hand about why both parents and private sector workers should be supporting the strike.
We need to support teachers in their action to defend their conditions. This is not a selfish action, but an action taken to defend a vital public service. I think it is fair to say that everyone benefits from a strong public sector education system, and an attack on the teachers is an attack on schools.
Parents, let your teachers know that you support them in this action. Anything which reduces the rewards for doing an often very difficult and emotionally hard job reduces the quality of people who will consider doing that job. Standards of teaching haven risen vastly in this country over the past decade, in no small part because of the extra investments that have been made, including pay rises.
Worsening the pension scheme will only act as a disincentive to enter or stay in teaching, so although it will be annoying having to work out what to do if your child’s school closes for the day, this strike is about the long term future of their education.
So if your child’s school closes on 30th June (and we hope that lots of schools will be closed), why not bring them along to the strike rally?