08/01/2012 - Teachers to Strike?

TEACHERS in England and Wales could soon be back on the picket line if the government continues in its attempts to attack their pensions.
The National Executive of NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) has just accused the Con-Dem Government of trying to bully its members into accepting a “final offer” which would mean paying more and working longer for their pensions. 
And the National Executive of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will be meeting in the next few days to review their options.  Whilst they are keen to obtain a “negotiated agreement on pensions” they haven’t ruled out legal challenges or strike action.
According to their website the NUT “remains concerned about proposed increases in employee contributions and pension ages.  We believe that increasing contributions at a time of real terms pay cuts will lead many teachers to opt out from pension provision and threaten the future of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.  The NUT is also concerned that a large majority of teachers will not be able to work successfully in the classroom to age 68.”
The smaller Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) will also be meeting towards the end of this month to seek opinions “on the latest Teachers' Pension Scheme proposals and continuing talks in the new year.”
Cameron and Clegg would do well to remember that last year, teaching unions voted in favour of strike action.  (This was in protest at the changes the Government is planning to make to their pensions.  Indeed, in the case of the NUT around 92% voted ‘yes’ to the strike – a sure indication of the anger and strength of feeling here).
And that vote in support of strike action meant that thousands of teachers walked out to join the Day of Action on 30 November.
As everyone now knows, N30 – as it has now become known – was a resounding success.  Around two million public sector workers went on strike in protest at the Con-Dem government’s attack on pensions.  Here, Cameron and Clegg want people to work longer, pay more towards their pension plan yet get less when they finally retire.  
With this in mind it’ll be interesting to see what Education Secretary Michael Gove does next.  Will he continue to play hard ball – or will he see sense concerning pensions?