Please click to read the letter that George Binette (Branch Secretary) and Hugo Pierre (CSF Co-Convenor) have written to let members working in education know about the UCU and NUT strike on Wednesday (28th March).
As you may be aware, following decisive votes in their national consultation exercises, the executives of the NUT (National Union of Teachers) and UCU college lecturers’ union have called strike action across London for next Wednesday, 28 March in defence of teachers’ and lecturers’ pension schemes.
In essence, teachers and lecturers are faced with pension proposals that are very similar to those that were on the table at the end of November last year when so many of us across UNISON took strike action. The unfortunate fact is that while the same remains largely true for us, for now, at least, our own union is not in the fight.
Here’s a reminder of what our NUT and UCU colleagues are confronting:
Paying More: A large hike in pension contributions, nearing 10% for most members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. For many Inner London teachers contributions would rise by nearly £1,400 over a three-year period. (For now at least non-teaching staff in local government are not yet faced with contribution hikes).
Working Longer: An increase in age at which teachers and lecturers can access full pension for all those born after 1 April 1962
Getting Less: A Career Average Scheme of less value to most members, along with reduced annual uprating.
On the day of the strike UNISON members should not be undertaking any of the work normally undertaken by teachers or lecturers taking part in the action. At the same time, we appreciate that many members in schools and at Westminster Kingsway College may feel under considerable pressure from Headteachers or managers to come into work, or feel that they cannot afford the loss of a day’s pay, especially when they themselves have not been called out.
Nonetheless, members should be aware that while honouring a picket line is very likely to be regarded as a breach of the contract of employment, it would be extremely unlikely for any action to be taken beyond the deduction of a day’s pay.
We honestly believe that NUT and UCU members would warmly welcome a refusal by UNISON members to cross picket line and they would not stand by if management were to take action against any of our members. By honouring NUT picket lines, UNISON members would cement an alliance at the school/college level that could stand support staff in better stead over the coming period when there will almost certainly be cuts threatened at schools across the borough and at Westminster Kingsway.
This is also a borough with a Labour council, where the Council leadership joined the rally at the Town Hall on the 30 November strike day, so it would be very unlikely that the Labour group would want further fall-out after 28 March in Camden schools. Our branch pledges its firm support to any member who faces any action beyond the deduction of pay for refusing to cross a picket line on Wednesday 28 March.
March and Rally
Assemble Malet Street, London WC1 for 11.00 AM to march to the Department for Education, SW1
For those members who can make it there will be a London-wide joint union march and rally taking our message on pension rights to the Department of Education and the arch enemy of democratically run, publicly accountable comprehensive state education, Michael Gove. We encourage you to attend if you possibly can.
The prospect of other public sector workers, including UNISON members across local government, securing a better offer from the Government hinges in no small measure on the ability of the NUT and UCU to mount effective action in London on 28 March. Truly, their fight is our fight.
Hugo Pierre, Co-Convenor (Children, Schools & Families)
100 Stanhope Street
TEL: 020 7974 8036
George Binette, Branch Secretary
59 Phoenix Road, Brill Place
London, WC1H 9JE
TEL: 020 7974 1633