Teachers vote in favour of strike
Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers are set to take part in a national strike on June 30.
As a result, millions of pupils at thousands of schools across Wales and England are expected to be affected as members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) stage a walkout in a row over pensions.
ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said: “Teachers are furious that the government is making huge changes to their pensions without providing a full valuation to know whether any of the changes are necessary. Lord Hutton’s proposals are the final straw.
“The Government has already devalued all public sector pensions including teachers’ by up to 25% by moving the annual inflation-linked increase from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index.
“It wants to increase teachers’ pension contributions by 50%, raising them from 6.4% to 9.8% by 2014.
"And now Lord Hutton wants to end the final salary pensions and make everyone aged 56 or younger work an extra five years. Lord Hutton has obviously never worked in a school. As Jamie Oliver’s Dream School is making only too clear, working in school is far from easy and many teachers are burnt out by 60 having had to face similar challenges every day."
According to the ATL the average teacher’s pension is £12,000 a year. The average teaching assistant’s pension is £4,000 a year.
ATL president, Andy Brown, said:“We have carefully picked this date to avoid external exams and important school and college events so that any strike causes as little disruption as possible to children’s education.
"We do not want to strike, but unless we take a stand now the government will irreparably damage education in this country and children will lose out.
"The best youngsters will not want to become teachers or lecturers, young teachers won’t be able to afford to join or stay in the pension scheme, older teachers will retire early, we will lose good teachers, lecturers and heads, and schools won’t be able to recruit heads.
"If the government abandons its completely unfair proposal to announce a rise in pension contributions before we have even begun to discuss the details of reforming pensions, there will be no need to strike. We want to talk, but without a loaded gun to our heads."
ASCL General Secretary Brian Lightman said: "Staff in schools and colleges have already played a large part in addressing the current economic difficulties by accepting a pay freeze and significant reductions in budgets. However, devaluing the pension scheme will have far-reaching consequences in terms of the ability to recruit and retain the best education workforce, at a time when it has never been more important. This will have implications for young people’s education far outlasting the current national economic situation."
"Changes to the pension system have been made without consultation and without evidence that the scheme is unsustainable. Teachers’ contributions have already increased. The fact that the government does not seem to be recognising this or listening to our arguments has led to unprecedented levels of anger."
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