The latest strike threats, this time from the teachers’ unions, add a certain poignancy to the economic rebalancing that's taking place in Britain at the moment. If anyone is going to be mindful of generational justice, one would expect it to be teachers - but the debates over their pensions show a concerning short-sightedness. Michael Gove has highlighted the inconvenience to working parents of schools closing, but there is something bigger at stake here.
The NUT has said there are three aspects of reform on which they won’t compromise:
- They won’t accept the increase in their pension age to 68 (which, realistically, the rest of the workforce faces).
- They won’t accept the substantial increase in contributions.
- They won’t accept the change to pensions being linked to CPI rather than to RPI.
It is generally accepted that teachers’ salaries and benefits packages should be financed by taxpayers but the situation has stretched beyond a point that is reasonable. The costs of traditional pension schemes in the public sector are huge and the risks are uncontrolled. Taxpayers cannot be expected to bear these risks and meet these costs when they could not possibly afford the sort of pension schemes that teachers have without sacrificing 40% of their income.
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