Pensions Battle Ahead!

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THE NUT and ATL teachers unions announced overwhelming votes for strike action yesterday, against the coalition government’s massive attacks on their pensions.

In the NUT strike ballot 92 per cent voted in favour of strike action, while in the first national strike ballot in its 127-year history, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted by 83 per cent to strike.

Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary said: ‘It is disgraceful that the government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers’ pensions.’

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said:  ‘When even the least militant education union and teachers working in private schools vote to strike the government would be wrong to ignore it.

‘We didn’t want to have to ballot members to strike, but the government gave us no choice because it is planning to announce a large increase in pension contributions within weeks.’

ATL president, Andy Brown, said: ‘It is completely unjust to make teachers, lecturers and children suffer for the economic mistakes made by UK governments and the financial sector.’

The government’s pension proposals will mean all teachers and lecturers having to:

• pay more – pension contributions would increase from 6.4 per cent to 9.8 per cent, which would mean on average a teacher would pay £1,145 a year more and a headteacher £1,965 more.

• work longer – the normal retirement age would rise to 66 and then 68.

• get less – the final salary scheme would be replaced by a career average scheme giving 15 per cent less in retirement.

The UCU lecturers union welcomed news that the NUT and ATL have voted to join them in taking strike action on June 30.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The average lecturer faces an increase of around £90 a month in exchange for reduced benefits.’

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will announce the result of its strike ballot today, raising the prospect of up to 750,000 teachers, civil servants and other public sector staff going on strike on June 30.

Meanwhile, Unison said yesterday that more than a million public sector workers are set to strike in defence of pensions in the autumn.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said huge numbers of local government workers and NHS staff were ‘on the road’ to industrial action in response to a ‘perfect storm’ of pay freezes and lower pensions.

Prentis said balloting of around 1.2 million Unison members will start soon unless a crunch meeting with the government on June 27 leads to a deal.

He warned that the government was on a ‘collision course’ with public sector unions over pensions as well as cuts to jobs, pay and services, adding: ‘If we are prevented from reaching agreement we will move to a ballot in the summer or early autumn.

‘It will not be one day of action – it will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services to prevent destruction of our pension schemes.

‘I have no doubt that unless the government pulls back from its attempt to decimate public sector pensions, this union will move to industrial action.’

He warned of ‘massive industrial unrest’ later in the year, adding; ‘It is very clear we are on a collision course unless the government changes its policies.’

Ministers are already drawing up emergency plans to deal with a massive strike action in the Autumn.

They are expecting doctors to take part. Doctors are furious that they will have to pay up to £7,000 more in pensions contributions.