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ATL starts its first national strike ballot over fundamental changes to teachers' and lecturers' pensions

20 May 2011

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has today (Friday) started its first national strike ballot in the union's history, balloting around 80,000 teachers and lecturers to strike over the government's plans to fundamentally change their pensions.

The last time ATL took national industrial action was on 2 May 1979, before current legislation on balloting. It was over changes to teachers' pay, when members held an afternoon of union branch meetings.

The ballot will run from Friday 20 May to Tuesday 14 June.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "Balloting our members to strike is a last resort, but the government has given us no choice. The government has totally failed to produce any justification for the changes to teachers' and lecturers' pensions and has consistently failed to change any of its plans despite months of discussions at all levels - between ministers and the TUC and between ministers and the education unions.

"ATL is not a militant union, but even our members are furious. They feel betrayed by the government which has broken its deal with them - the deal to work for less than many comparable degree-level professions, but receive a modest (average £10,000 a year) and secure pension.

"They are rightly angry that the government wants to dramatically and unjustifiably cut their pensions, while increasing the contributions they have to pay and making them work for longer.

"ATL members know only too well about the financial hardships affecting many people at the moment, with pay freezes, redundancies, and benefits cuts, because it is happening to many of them too and to the families of the children they teach.

"And now, regardless of any progress in the on-going talks, the government is insisting that it will push ahead in July with a firm proposal to increase pension contributions from April 2012.

"It is impossible to negotiate with a gun to our head.  We are taking a stand now to make the government stop and listen to reason."

ATL would co-ordinate any strike action with the other teachers' unions. A one day strike could take place towards the end of the summer term, after the public exams are over.

ATL is balloting all ATL and its leadership group (AMiE) members in England and Wales who are eligible for membership of the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) and who would normally be working on the day of the strike. This includes all members employed as teachers, lecturers or leaders in:

- local authority state funded schools,
- local authority central services, who are paid as teachers and eligible for the TPS
- academies
- sixth form colleges and further education colleges which are all part of the TPS
- independent schools which have been admitted to the TPS
- the post 1992 universities who are in the TPS.

Notes to editors

  1. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing approximately 170,000 teachers, headteachers, lecturers and support staff in maintained and independent nurseries, schools, sixth form, tertiary and further education colleges in the United Kingdom.

  2. ATL exists to help members, as their careers develop, through first rate research, advice, information and legal advice.

  3. ATL is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). ATL is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.

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