Philip Dixon, director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, has issued a statement saying that a mass walkout of teachers would be “almost inevitable” if the Westminster Government “refused to negotiate” over the proposed plans to their pensions.
Calls for Negotiation
Were the union to schedule a mass walk out, virtually every school in Wales could be affected or even close for the duration of the strike. The union leader stated, “We don’t want to see all the schools in Wales close, but that is a now a real possibility if the Westminster coalition refuses to enter into open and honest dialogue.”
While education is largely devolved in Wales, teachers’ wages and conditions are centrally dictated in Westminster. Dixon continued, “The Westminster coalition has not provided any figures to show that the [Teachers’ Pension Scheme] is in trouble. It is also another example of their refusal to dialogue with the profession. The Welsh Government has been far more constructive and conciliatory in its approach.”
The union proposes changes to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme that include rising the retirement age for teachers to 66, and later to 68. The union also states that while school staff would be forced to pay increased contributions, the value of pensions could be reduced on average by 25% over the course of retirement.
Pay More, Get Less
“In a nutshell, they would see teachers paying more, working longer and getting less – who would accept such a deal?” explains the union leader.
Welsh schools have had a taste of a mass teacher strike, as last June thousands of teachers marched in a coordinated strike with other public sector workers. Dixon continued, “Last term’s strike was the first national strike we have had in the union’s 127-year history, showing both our moderation but also our concern at the proposals about teachers’ pensions.”