Monday, 23 May 2011

Strike back at pensions robbery

NUT members on the half-million strong 26 March TUC demonstration, photo Paul Mattsson
The following is taken from the socialist issue 671


All out on 30 June



National Union of Teachers (NUT) members across England and Wales are balloting for strike action over pensions. So are members of the smaller ATL teaching union. We must win those ballots and defeat the government's plans to make every teacher pay more for a worse pension.

We also have to look ahead and make plans for big regional demonstrations on 30 June, planned as the first strike day. Striking teachers, lecturers and civil servants will be marching to defend their pensions. We hope other workers will come and join us to show their opposition to the Con-Dem cuts.

The pensions robbery is not the only attack facing teachers. Budget cuts mean that schools are announcing staff redundancies. We should take inspiration from a victory at Rawmarsh School in Rotherham where 25 teachers faced redundancy. After over ten days of strike action, NUT members have finally fought off the very last threat.

The government is also determined to accelerate the spread of academies. The pensions ballot covers members in academies too. It's a chance to unite the whole membership in struggle.

The pensions loss calculator on the NUT's website spells it out. The government's proposals mean that a young teacher might have to pay in £60 more a month. For what? - to be told they must work until they are 68 or have £300,000 stolen from their pension during their retirement!

Members of the teachers' union NUT on the 26 March TUC demonstration, photo Suzanne Beishon
Members of the teachers' union NUT on the 26 March TUC demonstration, photo Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)
These calculated losses are shocking enough. But the Con-Dems' plans for 'career-average' pensions could mean that they are an underestimate of what we could lose.

The idea put forward by the leaders of the NASUWT teaching union that we should wait until negotiations are completed before unions start to ballot is, at best, na├»ve. The Con-Dems have already budgeted for £2.8 billion that they plan to rake in from the attack on public sector pensioners. They're not offering any serious negotiations.

Fortunately, five other teacher, headteacher and lecturer unions have agreed to issue the same united message - "now is the time to defend our pensions". The UCU lecturers union is considering action. The PCS civil service union is likely to vote at its conference to ballot for strike action too.

Let's win the ballot and make 30 June a real show of strength. If the government won't back down, unions need to be ready to go further and escalate our action next term.
The NUT ballot closes on 14 June

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