Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) were amazed to find a ballot form dropping through their letter-boxes last weekend.
It contained a detailed argument in favour of a deal between the government and unions on new terms for the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).
We should call on members to vote no. Why? Firstly, the deal sells out hundreds of thousands of future teachers.
After 1 January 2007 every new TPS contributor will have a normal retirement age of 65, not 60. This will help the government save 2 percent of pension costs in the long term, with 1 percent of that being used to fund reforms.
Unmarried couples have lobbied for years for one partner to inherit pension income when the other dies, on a par with married or civil partnerships.
This will change with the new deal, but not retrospectively. Even then this will only apply if the partners have nominated themselves from day one of their relationship.
Secondly, a permanent cap has been set on employers’ contributions at 14 percent. No cap has been agreed on the employees’ contribution.
Thirdly, the new terms upon which incapacitated members can retire are worsened for the majority of colleagues in their later years of service.
There is some improvement for the colleagues who are forced to retire in their 30s or 40s because of serious impairment or injury.
The organisation representing the largest number of people affected by these changes has not been consulted – the National Union of Students.
Even if we can’t win a no majority now, it is important to set down a marker of resistance for the battles on pensions that will inevitably reappear.