11 February 2012

Teachers’ Pension Scheme Dispute

Please see below a clarification of the decision taken by the UCU’s national executive committee (NEC).

Please circulate this statement as widely as possible:  we urge you to forward a link to this statement to your colleagues. If you are a branch officer, please send it to your branch members. It is vital to clarify the UCU NEC’s position in order to obviate any confusion that may arise following the official press release and campaign’s update issued on Friday 10 February.

The UCU NEC unanimously agreed to join with our sister trade unions the NUT, and the PCS in co-ordinated strike action on 28 March 2012. That is the date unanimously agreed by the respective NECs. UCU NEC therefore agreed to re-schedule our previous date for national strike action i.e. 1 March. The UCU NEC also unanimously agreed to conduct a campaigning consultative e-survey of members, supported by a paper element – as are the NUT and PCS. This will be contextualised by a very strong recommendation to endorse the NEC’s decision to reject the Heads of Agreement (HoA) – the so-called ‘final offer’ – and to move to further coordinated strike action with our sister trade unions.

The NEC agreed that there is no need to re-ballot members for a mandate to take further industrial action. This had been suggested by some; and would have entailed informing employers of the timetable for balloting, formal membership checks by category of employment and so forth. The process was last used to secure industrial action short of a strike in the USS dispute. NEC agreed that such a ballot was not required because the union still has a valid legal mandate for further strike action.

The NEC yesterday unanimously agreed to an internal survey instead, in order to gauge the extent to which members agree with the NEC position to reject the HoA and to take further strike action, now beginning with a day’s strike on 28 March. The members’ survey will be preceded by a significant national campaign across all TPS branches.

This crucial campaign will present the argument for rejecting the HoA and make the case for further industrial action in order to defend current pensions.  The NEC will argue that the HoA did not reflect ‘significant improvements’ on the earlier ‘final offer’ (before 30 November). It is still totally unacceptable that our members should be expected to work longer, pay more, and get less.

Branch officers should expect to receive appropriate campaign materials shortly: if these do not arrive, address enquiries to head office.

The evidence suggests that, when properly informed, members indicate they agree with the NEC’s position. Last week, 8 regional committees met and 7 endorsed rejection and further industrial action. When this is demonstrated by the survey, we can submit mandatory notice to our employers – on the basis of our existing live industrial action ballot – that UCU intends to strike on March 28th alongside the NUT, and PCS, and possibly other unions, such as sections of Unite, the FBU, and others.

NEC will meet again on Friday 16 March to review progress.

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