Support for pension strike swells as teachers vote to join picket line

A strike by lecturers in newer universities is to be joined by thousands of schoolteachers, as unions join forces to oppose cuts to pensions.

June 15, 2011

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and National Union of Teachers will walk out of schools across England and Wales on 30 June, after ballot results gave backing for stoppages.

They will join members of the University and College Union in post-1992 universities in a strike over proposed cuts to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), which is being targeted as part of the government’s austerity programme.

The UCU had already committed to a walk-out on 30 June. Tens of thousands of academics in post-92 institutions are members of the TPS.

The government’s starting offer to the unions on public sector pensions, leaked last month, proposed raising the retirement age to 66 for most state employees, replacing final-salary with career-average schemes, and raising employee contributions by 3.3 percentage points.

Benefits in the new schemes would also be calculated under reduced accrual rates.

While TPS members who joined the scheme since 2007 currently accrue 1/60th of their final salary for each year of service, the models in the government paper would cut this rate to 1/80th, 1/90th, or 1/100th of average salary.

The changes would apply for the future service of current members, as well as new entrants.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said: “The average lecturer faces an increase of around £90 a month in exchange for reduced benefits. UCU remains committed to a negotiated solution, but that requires employers and government to actively engage with, and listen to, staff concerns.”

The UCU says members in pre-92 universities, where academics are members of the private Universities Superannuation Scheme, will take part in “demonstrative action” on 30 June but will not mount strikes.

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