Opposing Pension Cuts

Remarks to SSTA Congress, moving Emergency Motion on Cuts to Teachers’ Pensions:

“The SSTA believes that the most recent reforms to the UK Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme resulted in a scheme which is sustainable, actuarially secure and represents good value for the UK tax payer. The Association will resist by all legal means, any further changes to the scheme which are not supported by an independent actuarial valuation.”

I’m moving Emergency Motion 2 on behalf of Salaries Committee the Convener of which enjoys the confidence of this association.
I move this emergency motion because the attack on our pensions and those of the wider public sector are becoming an emergency – they must be opposed and they must be defeated.
As detailed previously, the Hutton report published in March proposed sweeping changes to the pension arrangements for every public sector worker in the UK. 
As Congress knows the Hutton Inquiry was set-up in response to an apparent pensions crisis.
The so-called pensions crisis is only a crisis for the millions of public sector workers who are going to see contributions rise, whilst they have to work longer and at the end of it all receive only a fraction of what they would otherwise have done.
It is a scandal that will affect many in later years – but which has to be challenged now.
The government has still to publish its response to the findings of Lord Hutton, but let them be clear.
We will oppose any detrimental changes to our pensions schemes that cannot be proven to be actuarially justified.
What do we face after a lifetime at the chalk face? A gold plated retirement?
It’s poorer pay now and a poorer pension later.
Government proposals would see a pension payment increase of 45% at least
Not being able to claim it until you are 65 or older.
Having a pension based not on final salary – but career average.
Congress, the public sector pensions scheme has already been reformed in recent years, it is achieving targets in cost savings.
These new changes represent nothing other than a theft from and of our deferred wages.
On their own, the changes pose a risk to the very existence of the scheme as people are given a huge incentive to opt out.
When added to a pay freeze and cost of living increases any large hike in contributions will make many younger teachers – the group least likely to pay attention to discussion on their pensions, more likely to withdraw from the scheme.
And no wonder – what an opportunity cost: hiked-up pension payments now;
or more pressing bills like student loans – or in saving up the huge deposit needed for a house these days.
The campaign to prevent this theft is continuing but we face the challenge, as we know of the propaganda of the private sector – who target the public sector pension in order to evade attention being focussed upon the often-scandalous pension arrangements for their workers.
The way forward is not further reform aimed at slashing the benefits of a pension that people pay for themselves  – a pension scheme that is already sustainable, already secure, and already good value. The way forward is to ensure that any changes are supported by independent actuarial evaluation and offer an appropriate reward in retirement.
Congress, be very clear.
When we say we will oppose these changes we mean it.
This association will never, ever, ever raise a placard with one hand and a white flag with the other.
The Government seems set to betray public sector workers.
But we will never betray our members.
We will defend our members because that is what this association exists to do. 
On this matter, like the cuts being brought about by CoSLA and the Scottish Government. this association should, must and will defend its members by any means necessary.
Please support the motion.

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