Teaching unions have announced their intention to strike later in the month in defence of members’ pensions – a move that could close thousands of schools and which has been described as ‘irresponsible and wrong’ by Cabinet Minister Francis Maude.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has announced ‘overwhelming endorsement for strike action by its members to defend teachers’ pensions’. The union will be campaigning alongside the Association of Teachers and Lecturers – traditionally the most moderate of the teaching unions.
‘Pay more, work longer and get less’
The NUT believes that teachers’ pensions are fair and affordable. It says the Government wants teachers to ‘pay more, work longer and get less’. It accuses the government of ‘pressing ahead with unnecessary reforms despite the changes already made to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme in 2007’.
NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said, ‘The Government’s unnecessary attack on public sector pensions has convinced NUT members that there is no alternative but to support strike action’.
‘It is disgraceful that the Government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers’ pensions. The Government knows that they are affordable. This is a policy which has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with politics.’
‘The NUT is party to the TUC negotiations with Government to protect public sector pensions. It is not too late for common sense to prevail and for these unnecessary changes to be stopped. It is in no one’s interest to create a whole new swathe of people who are a burden on the taxpayer in old age.’
‘Irresponsible and wrong…’
However, cabinet office minister Francis Maude has appealed to those planning to strike to reconsider, calling the move ‘irresponsible and wrong.’
A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said; ‘The Government is committed to working openly and constructively with unions to ensure that teachers continue to receive high quality pensions and that the interests of all professionals are represented fully as pension reform is taken forward.’
‘Lord Hutton has made it clear that there needs to be a balance between a common framework for all schemes and the need for flexibility to take account of specific workforce circumstances, such as those of the teaching workforce.’
‘We are clear that a strike by teachers will only damage pupils’ learning and inconvenience their busy working parents. The wellbeing and safety of pupils must remain paramount.’
What are your thoughts about the upcoming teacher strike? Will you be taking part in it or do you think it will do more harm than good?