Teachers to vote on strike ballot over pensions

Teachers on strike Teachers' unions are planning a co-ordinated strike campaign over cuts to pensions

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Schools could face a series of walk-outs from this summer over cuts to teachers' pensions packages.

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers conference in Harrogate are to vote on whether to ballot for a strike.

If the NUT backs industrial action it is likely to act jointly with the ATL teachers' union, whose members have already voted for a strike ballot.

Ministers say any changes to pensions will be fair, and that firm proposals will be set out in the autumn.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb, who was jeered over pensions at the ATL conference earlier this week, has invited the heads of teachers' unions to discuss the issue with him.

'Tricked'

A priority motion on a pensions strike ballot is to be debated in Harrogate on Saturday.

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People are living longer - in the early 1970s life expectancy of a 60-year-old was around 18 years: now it is around 28 years”

End Quote Department for Education

If teachers from the 300,000-member union support the proposal, every school in England and Wales could be hit by industrial action.

The unions are concerned that the coalition's changes to public-sector pensions will mean they pay more, work longer and receive less when they retire.

The union has also published research suggesting two-thirds of its members would be more likely to quit teaching if their pension packages were reduced.

The government is planning changes to pensions schemes in all parts of the public sector, to save £2.8bn.

It asked Lord Hutton to draw up plans for this, which it has accepted in principle.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said teachers were angry and felt they had been tricked over their pensions.

She said if the government did not take their complaints into consideration, teachers could be the first of a wave of public sector workers to walk out in protest over the cuts.

But she had no doubt they would be followed by other staff working in the public sector if ministers did not back down.

'Affordable, sustainable'

Ahead of the vote, the union published research after consulting 7,500 of its members.

It found two-thirds would be more likely to quit the profession if the proposed changes to their pensions went ahead.

Of these, a third said they would be very likely to leave their jobs.

Nearly 70% said they saw their pension as an important part of their pay when they joined the profession.

And 60% said their pensions remained an important factor in keeping them in teaching.

Ms Blower added: "The NUT survey proves what we have been saying - the government's proposals are not just unfair and unnecessary, they will have a massive impact on the recruitment and retention to teaching."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Lord Hutton has made it clear that change is needed.

"People are living longer - in the early 1970s life expectancy of a 60-year-old was around 18 years: now it is around 28 years.

"We will set out proposals in the autumn that are affordable, sustainable, and fair to both the public sector workforce and taxpayers."

NUT members last walked out in 2008 over pay. It was the union's first national strike in 21 years.

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