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Teacher’s explanation for yesterday’s strike
9:02am Thursday 1st December 2011 in Letters
As a secondary school teacher taking industrial action, I felt that parents whose children miss a day’s education and who may in turn miss out on a day’s pay would like an explanation.
Times are certainly hard and getting harder. We are all being asked by employers to ‘tighten our belts’.
Teachers’ pensions were modernised and assessed in 2007. The retirement age was raised from 60 to 65 and we were moved to average salary rather than final salary pensions. We have been under a pay freeze for a year and will be for at least one more. Against a backdrop of five per cent inflation, belts are already tight. We have done our part.
We are now being asked to pay higher contributions, work to the age of 68 and receive a lower pension.
Whilst there are, I’m sure, a number of fantastic teachers at 65 years of age, many of them will simply be exhausted beyond the point of excellence in teaching. Ask yourself if you would like your children taught by a 68-year-old. For the pleasure of working until we’re on death’s door, most frontline classroom teachers, on fairly modest salaries will be paying £200+ towards their pension each month.
The average teacher’s pension is somewhere in the region of £10,000 a year and already set to reduce.
And let us not forget that teaching is skilled work with the associated rewards. Not all public sector workers are as lucky. One quarter of civil service workers get under £40 a week and their pensions too are under attack. Teachers are stood side by side with them and I hope that workers across the country, private and public, can do the same.
Private sector workers have my full support in demanding tighter regulation of private pension funds and my full support in calling to account the people who have gambled away their hard-earned cash.
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