The NUT teachers’ union wants to hold a national ballot for strikes to defend pensions.
The union’s national executive last week agreed to talk with others in the public sector about a ballot for co-ordinated strike action to take place in the spring term.
NUT national treasurer Ian Murch told Socialist Worker, “Pensions are a huge issue for all workers and for people already retired.
“Teachers are set to lose tens of thousands of pounds from their pensions over the time they are paid, and will be expected to pay a lot more for them.
“That’s why the NUT is going to take the initiative in seeking to mobilise a mass campaign to protect pensions.
“Our action has to be timed to influence the Hutton Commission’s proposals for public sector pensions, and Hutton is due to report in March 2011.”
The union already has good evidence that its own members are angry about Lord Hutton’s ideas.
His commission into public sector pensions argued that workers must pay more and work longer to get less.
The government has already decided to link public sector pensions to the lower CPI rate of inflation instead of the RPI one as it is now.
This will cut thousands of pounds from existing workers’ pensions.
The NUT says that a retired teacher on a £10,000-a-year pension would lose more than £35,000 over the course of their retirement. A serving teacher retiring on a £20,000‑a‑year pension would lose over £70,000.
If other public sector unions join the NUT, we could see strikes involving millions of workers that could force the Tories back.
Malcolm Povey, a lecturer at Leeds University and member of the UCU union’s national executive, told Socialist Worker, “The Tory attack on the public sector is an ideological and political one.
“The attack on pensions is about making it easier to sack workers. Public sector schemes are built on salary sacrifice—deferred wages.
“We need a campaign that unites unions from both public and private sectors.
“Such a campaign will need to be underpinned by industrial action—including strikes, walkouts, demonstrations.”
Teachers should organise now to build on the NUT’s decision. They can pass motions backing a fight over pensions and hold meetings to discuss the campaign.
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