Socialist Worker

Teachers’ unions are mobilising to defend pensions and education

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2254

The government’s attacks on public sector pensions have sparked a national fightback.

Talks between unions and the government are ongoing over the planned pensions “reforms” and the Tories say they are “negotiating”.

Trade unionists see it differently.

Alex Kenny, a member of the NUT teaching union’s national executive committee, spoke to Socialist Worker about the talks.

He said, “We’ve been in negotiations for three months now and the government is not negotiating.

“Lib Dem treasury spokesperson Danny Alexander revealed the government’s latest proposals to us recently. They are worse.

“They would involve a Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) scheme.

“For a new teacher this would mean working 48 years to get an £8,000 a year pension.

“These proposals are about breaking the existing scheme.

“The benefits would be so low that people would wonder why they should join it. Any CARE scheme would be unviable.

“The government has given no evidence for its pensions cuts.

“The attack is ideological. It wants to take money from us and put it in the treasury to pay for the deficit that the bankers created.

“The ballot in the NUT is going well. We’re confident we’ve won the argument about the seriousness of the threat and the need to strike.

“The reports we’ve had of meetings around the country are that they are big—when people see the figures they are shocked.

“Many meetings involve the ATL and other unions too.

“I hope 30 June will be a lively celebration of resistance.”

Teachers and other trade unionists around the country are organising to make it so.

Ben Morris, the joint division secretary of Sheffield NUT, said, “Branch secretaries and activists from South Yorkshire NUT, UCU, PCS and ATL met and agreed to call a march and demonstration in Sheffield on 30 June. This is assembling at 12 noon at the Peace Gardens in the city centre.

Background

“South Yorkshire CWU and the NUJ unions were also represented at the meeting.

“We are also planning a public meeting and an activists’ meeting in order to

co-ordinate for the day.

“Sheffield and Doncaster Trades Councils have both passed motions backing the demo and Barnsley and Rotherham Trades Councils are set to discuss it too.

“The strike comes against a background of several very important disputes against cuts in South Yorkshire, such as at Sheffield and Barnsley colleges.

There are other fights in Doncaster council.

Teachers at Rawmarsh school in Rotherham have managed to avoid compulsory redundancies after 11 days of strikes. And at City school in Sheffield, teachers are balloting for strikes against a redundancy..

“As well as challenging attacks on pensions, 30 June can provide a focus which helps these separate strikes appear as part of a strike movement against cuts.

“Over 20 NUT reps came to a briefing we held in Sheffield last week.

“At schools where an active lead is given the NUT is recruiting strongly because of the ballot.”


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