IN an article published at the beginning of the year (Teachers to Strike? of 08/01/2012) we predicted that ‘Teachers in England and Wales could soon be back on the picket line if the government continues in its attempts to attack their pensions.’
We noted how all educational staff felt angry, frustrated and let down at the way the Con-Dem Government were treating them.
For instance, NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) had accused them of trying to bully its members into accepting a “final offer” which would mean paying more and working longer for their pensions. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) were keen on a “negotiated agreement on pensions” but hadn’t ruled out legal challenges or strike action. And the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) were meeting to seek opinions “on the latest Teachers' Pension Scheme proposals and continuing talks in the new year.”
We now understand that strike action may be on the cards sometime during Spring. Already, Thursday 1 March has been mooted as the day on which industrial action would take place.
It’s thought that the NUT, NASUWT, Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) and Undeb Cenedlaethal Athrawon Cymru (UCAC) have refused to sign up to the latest government offer. (The UCU represents academic and what's known as academic related staff - that is IT support, librarians and so on, in both higher (HE) and further (FE) education. The UCAC is Wales’s own education union for teachers, head-teachers and lecturers.)
The NUT, NASUWT, UCU and UCAC represent around 80 per cent of workers affected by the government-proposed Teachers Pension Scheme. All in all, this spells trouble for Michael Gove, the (Tory) Secretary of State for Education.
It seems to us that he’s in between a rock and a hard place. Even Gove must appreciate the increasing – and completely legitimate - opposition to Cameron and Clegg’s attack on pensions. After all, who in their right mind would sign up to a plan which makes them work longer, pay more towards their pension plan yet get less when they finally retire?
We’re sure that Michael Gove wouldn’t sign up to something as crazy as this. So why does he expect millions of public sector workers to do so?