Thursday, 9 February 2012

Special Executive: February 2012

A Special National Executive meeting was held on Thursday 9th.

Christine Blower reported on current discussions with other trade unions regarding the pensions campaign.

The unions are due to meet Government on 20th February. This is the last scheduled meeting of the pensions (so-called) negotiations, and it is widely expected that Danny Alexander will announce that elements of the changes will be imposed shortly afterwards.

Christine highlighted that we had secured a number of gains through the action- there is 8% more in the "cost ceiling" from Government, and the ten year protection for members approaching retirement is also a concession that would not have been achieved without taking action.

However, we have not seen any movement on the key objectives of the campaign
Work longer: Still normal retirement age of 68- an apparent concession on this was withdrawn by Government
Pay More: Contribution increases will mean that members will receive a real terms pay cut in April, and further hikes in contributions in next two years
Get Less: A less-than-Career-Average scheme, where payment will be related on a convoluted career average, uprated in relation to increase in CPI rather than in line with increases in earnings. Current pensioners and all future pensioners see the value of their pension dramatically reduced, year on year in retirement through the switch from RPI to CPI.

Kevin Courtney reported on the scheme-specific discussions, which the Union has attended, without prejudicing our continued non-agreement of the Heads of Agreement. This has allowed us to ask questions and make representation about points within the scheme. Amazingly, the Equality Impact Assessment (looking at any disproportionate effect on certain groups such as part-timers and/or women members) will not be completed until after the date at which the Unions are being asked to finally sign up !

Christine reported that the Government continues to refuse to undertake an appropriate revaluation of the scheme, and has now changed the "discount rate" in order to prevent such a revalution taking place.

It was agreed to undertake a significant and widespread survey of all members, using ERBS (the company we use for formal ballots) to ascertain members support for the Union's position in the negotiation, and how strongly the willingness is amongst our members to take further strike action. This will allow responses by post, e-mail, phone and text.

It appears unlikely that the NASUWT will call further strike action in the immediate future- although they remain, like us, firmly in dispute with the Government. The NAHT have not signed up, but have publicly stated that they are not going to take any further action. The ATL have signed up to the Heads of Agreement. The UCU remain in dispute, and willing to take strike action in defence of their members. It is likely that our sister teacher unions in Scotland will consider further action.

We will also be undertaking widespread reps briefings, and a significant publicity campaign to highlight our case.

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