Teachers and lecturers took part in a mass lobby of MPs today, Wednesday, to demand that they support decent public sector pensions.
Seven education unions—the NUT, UCU, NASUWT, UCAC, ATL, ASCL and NAHT—jointly organised the lobby.
Thousands of workers travelled on union-organised coaches from across Britain to take part.
Flick and Maria came from Hampshire. Flick told Socialist Worker, “We thought we’d see our MP today but he cancelled at the last minute. That says a lot about what parliament thinks of us.”
Both have been teachers for nearly 40 years.
Maria said, “Our pensions will probably be alright, but we’ve come to fight for the younger ones. The biggest fear is that people could leave the schemes and they could collapse.
“MPs seem to have forgotten that they’re meant to be there to represent us.”
Stella Merchant, an NUT union member, came from Halifax in West Yorkshire. “I worry about the young people who could have to work until they’re 69,” she said.
“The government isn’t listening, so there will be a strike on 30 November.
“After that we have to keep a united front, because the government hopes it will just fizzle out.”
Many people were angry with the government’s refusal to properly negotiate with the unions. The Tories are determined to make public sector workers pay higher pension contributions, work for longer and get lower pensions when they retire.
Anne Lemon is an NUT member in Bristol and also on the union’s national executive committee.
She told Socialist Worker, “The government wants our pension schemes to wither away. They hope people will drop out—then they can bring in private schemes.
“But people are up for a fight—and they are in it for the long haul.”