In a recent meeting, the conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted overwhelmingly to ballot on strike action over pension reforms, which will mean an end to final salary pensions for them, a decision that is to be confirmed this autumn.
The ATL’s executive committee are to meet later on to decide whether to authorise a ballot for a strike this summer, with the National Union of Teachers due to hold its own conference this Easter weekend, it is likely the union will follow the path of the ATL.
ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “Members deeply regret having to take this step to ballot for strike action, but they believe they need to take a strong stand now to make the Government listen.”
Addressing the ATL conference, to heckles and jeers, schools minister Nick Gibb, said: “The issue of teacher pensions is one that is exercising the minds of teachers, teacher unions and the Government. As well as the huge pressures on public spending as a result of the Budget deficit, there are also long-term pressures on all pension funds – both public sector and private – as a result of longer life expectancy and reduced financial returns on pension capital.
“We have already been clear that we don’t want to see a race to the bottom in pension provision – and that public service pensions should remain a gold standard. A good pension has long been an important part of the overall reward package that teachers expect.
“The combination of more teacher pensioners and the increase in their life expectancy has meant that the cost of teachers’ pensions increases every year. In 2005/06, the cost of paying teachers’ pensions was around Ã‚Â£5 billion. By 2015/16, the cost is forecast to rise to almost Ã‚Â£10 billion.
“This is why long-term reform of public service schemes is needed – and why teachers and other public service scheme members are being asked to pay a higher pension contribution from April 2012.