Anger at ‘pay more to get less’ pension plan

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TEACHERS at South Holland schools would be hit particularly hard if they are left with less money in their pockets due to proposed pension changes.

National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) Lincolnshire division secretary Ken Rustidge says teachers in the district feel extremely angry about Government plans to make teachers “pay more, work longer and get less” in the overhaul.

And he claims an effective pay cut combined with the rural nature of the county and ever increasing prices for things such as fuel would leave many teachers struggling.

The NUT, which has more than 2,200 members in Lincolnshire, and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which has 951, have voted overwhelmingly for a day of strike action on June 30, which could see some schools forced to close as staff join the walk-out.

Mr Rustidge, who said some young teachers could now face having to continue working until they are 68, said: “Younger teachers are very worried and I have actually seen some in tears because this Government has decided to move the goalposts.

“I have never seen such an overwhelming response and I am surprised how angry people are. This just seems a mean thing for the Government to do.”

But Mr Rustidge, who taught at the Robert Manning Technology College, Bourne, for more than 20 years and lives in Pinchbeck, says the date for the strike has been carefully chosen to cause minimum disruption to schools, as it is after GCSE and A-level exams have been completed and before end-of-term events begin.

And ATL Lincolnshire spokesman Stephen Buck, a teacher with 25 years’ experience, says teachers do not want to disrupt pupils’ education.

He said: “Nobody wants to affect the education of children but teachers have been put in a no-win situation.

“There is a recruitment crisis for newly-qualified teachers coming into the profession and a difficulty in filling headteacher vacancies – and instead of sorting it out the Government is reducing pay.

“We are talking large figures because they are planning to effectively reduce the take home pay for newly-qualified teachers by £50 and headteachers by £200 a month, which isn’t a small amount of money.

“Teachers will also have to work longer to get their pension, even though many entered into the profession on the understanding they would get their money when they reached 60.

“It’s a mark of how badly the Government has misjudged this that the teachers’ strike is being supported by headteachers who are just as angry.

“Although we are not pleased at having to take this action we need to see the big picture and these changes would only make things worse, which will not be good for children’s education in the long-term.

“This is nothing to be triumphant about that. No-one is pleased and no-one is waving banners but we have been pushed into the situation. There is no easy way out but we need the Government to change its mind so what else can we do?”