Magazine article Times Higher Education

Inimical Ballot

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Inimical Ballot

Article excerpt

In June last year, Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, wrote in the New Statesman that "the prospect of 800,000 teachers in schools, colleges and universities being on strike should concentrate government minds". She was right: it did. Since then, as the wave of industrial action in defence of our pensions has intensified, the government has sought to make small concessions to divide the opposition to its plans. That tactic has not worked.

The coalition's most recent offer, made after the industrial action on 30 November, involved minor concessions on accrual rates and the consumer price index inflator, plus the exclusion of those within 10 years of retirement from some (although not all) of the planned detriments. The final point was a crude attempt to divide older and younger members. All have been to no avail. Few if any pensions members have been fooled. The concessions still left us facing an additional three to four years of working life to earn the same pension. They left us paying more each month for reduced benefits. And since there is an annual surplus in the Teachers' Pension Scheme, those increases are effectively an additional tax on TPS members.

Now, partly in response to the UCU's initiative, the National Union of Teachers and the Public and Commercial Services Union - possibly to be joined by the NASUWT and others - have agreed that there should be joint strike action in defence of pensions in March, and some form of regional rolling action thereafter ("Pensions protection", Letters, 26 January). …

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