Natfhe up in arms over 'unjust' plan to raise pensionable age

May 7, 2004

Lecturers' leaders have attacked the "outrage and injustice" of plans to raise the pensionable age for academics, writes Phil Baty.

John Wilkin, president-elect of lecturers' union Natfhe, said this week that one of his campaigning priorities would be to oppose proposed changes to pensions that would force academics to work longer for the same benefits.

"Teaching and public service unions must make the government realise the sense of outrage and injustice that we have about the proposal to raise the normal pensionable age to 65 for our profession," he said.

At the moment, academics can retire at 60, but under the new proposals they would lose 25 per cent of their entitlement if they did so.

"Like all public sector employees, lecturers in further education and higher education face proposals to change their pension scheme - requiring future employees and those currently under 50 to work for many more years to achieve a level of retirement pension comparable to that of those who have retired in the past 20 years."

Mr Wilkin, chair of Natfhe West Midlands region and a senior lecturer in statistics at Coventry University, will take over as Natfhe vice-president at the end of the union's conference in Blackpool this month and as president a year later.

"Unions have often had to remind government and chancellors that the success of our institutions depends on the staff who work in them," he said.

Mr Wilkin said the union would continue to resist the introduction of top-up fees, which, he said, threatened inequality without meeting higher education's needs or addressing the 40 per cent decline in lecturers' pay.

He also said he would campaign against casual, hourly paid contracts for lecturers and for a cut in workloads.

"Across both sectors, staff must be protected from ever-growing workloads that derive from the pressure to raise 'productivity' by worsening staff-to-student ratios."

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