Education unions pledge more action in Autumn

This is the text of a letter to their members from the general secretaries of the three pensionsteaching unions which took strike action in June.

The industrial action our members took on 30 June was a success and made  clear to the government the extent of anger within the profession.

It had a positive impact on public opinion and in particular exposed as simply untrue attempts by the government to present public sector pensions as unaffordable.

Strike action for any educator is always a last resort. That is why we remain committed to a negotiated solution, if possible, to the dispute over the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).

Following the recent TUC-led discussions, detailed talks will now be held on each public sector scheme including our TPS.

Unfortunately there appears to be a real danger that the government may impose an arbitrary and unfair ceiling on what they are prepared to spend to support teachers’ pensions.

In our view, without real negotiations on this key issue, these talks will be a sham – the only issue to be decided being how much more teachers will pay, and how much longer they will have to work to secure inferior benefits.

The government wants to set this limit even while still refusing to provide a new valuation of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. Indeed it is now beginning to consult on the first stage of contribution increases for TPS members.

All education trade unions that are involved in negotiations over TPS (ATL, ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT, NUT,UCAC & UCU) have met today and started the process of drawing up joint campaigning plans for the Autumn.

Our aim in all this activity will be simple: to persuade government to negotiate in good faith.

We hope, as we know you hope, that this will result in government listening to teachers and agreeing to genuine negotiations. However if government will not budge from its current position those trade unions who have already
taken action (ATL NUT and UCU) will, with regret, need to consider taking further industrial action in November.

In that instance unity among staff will be essential if we are to defend our pensions.

The National Association of Head Teachers and UCAC have also already decided to ballot their members for industrial action.

The Government has lost the confidence of the teaching profession over its handling of our pensions. It now has a final chance to listen to reason.

For our part, we will do everything in our power to achieve a negotiated solution without further disruption in our schools, colleges and universities.

We wish all our members a restful summer holiday. Next term, we will return renewed and refreshed and determined once again to protect our pension scheme.

Mary Bousted  (ATL General Secretary), Christine Blower (NUT General Secretary) Sally Hunt (UCU General Secretary)

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