ATL members vote to strike over pension cuts

Press release
15 November 2016 by ATL Media Office
Teachers, lecturers and leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and non-academic and support staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, balloted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), have voted to strike over plans to cut their pensions.

Teachers, lecturers and leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and non-academic and support staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, balloted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), have voted to strike over plans to cut their pensions.

The ballots ran from 25 October to 8 November.

1,554 members in Northern Ireland were eligible to vote. Of those in the Northern Ireland Teachers' Superannuation Scheme (NITSS), 43% voted, and of these 69% voted to strike, and 31% voted against.

Of those in the Northern Ireland Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), 31% voted, and of these 68% voted to strike, and 32% voted against.

Of the 416 teachers, lecturers and leaders balloted in Scotland in the Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme (STSS), 23% voted, and of these 71% voted to strike, and 29% voted against.

Of the 13,032 non-academic and support staff balloted in England and Wales in the Local Government Pensions Scheme, 26% voted, and of these 73% voted to strike, and 27% voted against.

78,342 teacher, lecturer and leader members of ATL in England and Wales were balloted on the government's plans to change the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) in May and June. Eighty-three per cent of those who returned their ballot papers voted for industrial action, and they took part in the first national strike in ATL's 127-year history on 30 June.

Despite being encouraged by the government's revised pensions offer last week and its move towards real negotiations, ATL still has major concerns about the proposals. On Saturday (Nov 5), the ATL executive committee voted unanimously for members to go on strike on 30 November on the Trades Union Congress organised day of action.

The ballot results mean that ATL members from around the UK will be joining colleagues from up to 13 other education unions and other unions taking industrial action on 30 November.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: "ATL members in all countries of the UK have voted to oppose pension cuts. While we were naturally pleased that the government finally made some concessions last week, its revised plans would still make most teachers, lecturers, leaders, non-academic and support staff pay higher pension contributions, work longer, but get less in retirement, and exclude those working in independent schools from the teachers' pension schemes.

"We hope the government pays heed to today's vote, knowing that ATL members are not militant people. We just want members to be treated fairly. After a career educating the UK's young people, and paying into their pensions, teachers, lecturers, leaders, non-academic and support staff deserve to have a decent retirement and not be forced to rely on state benefits.

"We remain committed to talks with the government, and firmly hope that a fair deal can be reached. No one wants a strike on 30 November, striking is always a last resort. But if it is impossible to agree a fair settlement then we will reluctantly take members on strike again."

The government's pension proposals would mean most teachers, lecturers and leaders would have to:

* pay more - pension contributions would increase from 6.4% to an average of 9.8%, which would mean on average a teacher would pay £1,145 a year more and a headteacher £1,965 more

* work longer - the normal retirement age would rise to 66 and then 68

* get less - the final salary scheme would be replaced by a career average scheme giving the average teacher between 15% and 30% less in retirement

* and the proposals would exclude all teachers and heads in independent schools, around 60,000 people in the UK from the respective pension schemes.

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), 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.