Teachers have a very strong sense of fairness. The way we are being treated over our pension is simply not fair. The government wants us to pay more and work longer to receive less when we retire. This is not because our pension scheme is “unaffordable” or in deficit. If it was, the government would have published the actuarial review of our pension scheme, which they are required by law to do. They have suppressed that actuarial review because they know that it would demolish their propaganda.
So why are they attacking our pension? Two reasons. Firstly because they want teachers and other public sector workers to pay off the government debt. But we didn’t cause this debt. It wasn’t teachers who created billions of pounds worth of toxic derivatives, who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back, who crashed the banks while taking millions in bonuses and evading taxes. We didn’t cause this crisis and we shouldn’t be expected to pay the price for it.
And the second reason is because the two things standing in the way of the wholesale privatization of education are the teacher unions and the Teachers Pension Scheme. The attack on our pension is a provocation which they hope will enable them to smash our unions and destroy our pension scheme.
NUT, ATL, UCU and PCS will be out on strike on Thursday. This is just the first skirmish in what will develop into the fight of our lives. In the Autumn we need to be joined by other public sector unions, by Unison, Unite, GMB, NAHT and NASUWT in particular. And also by the students; if we can knock them back on pensions we can turn the tide against student fees and the scrapping of EMA as well.
This government can be beaten, but it will take a huge and determined strike movement to do it. That’s why from June 30th onwards we should be forming rank and file strike committees in every locality, with representatives of all of the unions I mentioned above and also students and other community and anti cuts activists.