Schools, colleges and universities across London were affected on Wednesday as the NUT and University College Union (UCU) called a one-day strike in the next step of their pensions campaign. The NUT says that the government still wants to make teachers pay more, work longer and get less, and that imminent pension changes are an extra tax on teachers when the top rate of tax is being cut. But the DfE described the action as “completely irresponsible”: “the deal on the table is as good as it gets,” said a spokesperson.
According to The Guardian, unions said the action hit more than 60 higher and further education institutions, and “a ‘substantial number’ of schools were closed or partially shut as a result of the strike”.
The action comes just a week before the first stage of a 50% increase in pension contributions for teachers and lecturers. The unions say that this is despite evidence that the cost of pensions is actually falling following changes made in 2007, and that the government has shown no evidence that their pensions are either unsustainable or unaffordable.
‘As good as it gets’: DfE
But a DfE spokesperson described the decision to take action as “completely irresponsible”.
“The deal on the table is as good as it gets and talks are not going to be reopened.
“Most people will struggle to understand why NUT’s leadership is rejecting a good offer which guarantees their own members a far better pension than the vast majority of people in the country will ever get. Industrial action just risks unnecessarily harming children’s education and damaging the reputation of the entire profession in the public’s eyes.
“Reforms to public sector pensions are essential – the status quo is simply not an option. The cost to the taxpayer of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme is already forecast to double from £5billion in 2006 to £10billion in 2016 and will carry on rising rapidly as life expectancy continues to improve.”
Government ‘intransigent’: NUT
NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower, said: “Teachers cannot be expected to do anything other than defend the right to a pension which they have paid into in good faith and which the government has shown no evidence that they are either unsustainable or unaffordable. No teacher wants to be in this position. Pension increases are just an extra tax on teachers, when the top rate of tax is being cut. It is the government’s intransigence and total disregard of the facts that has forced teachers to continue with this action.”
As the day of action progressed, one striker, ‘Lord Lumey’ tweeted: “Would like to be in school teaching. As it is, have to strike to defend my basic and fair pension entitlement. Thanks government.”
Should teachers continue their action over pensions, or accept that the current offer really is “as good as it gets”? Did you choose to strike on 28th March? Why not tell us about the day.
To find out more about the strikes and what was happening in the day take a look at the TeachinLondon Twitter feed!