Pensions attack could be straw that breaks our backs

20th May 2011 at 01:00

Pensions are part of the unique, unwritten contract with government that is taken on trust by teachers. When significant changes were made in 2008 we were promised they were "once in a lifetime" and the pension scheme was secure and viable. So what is to stop every government from gouging chunks out of teachers' pensions?

As for our generous, "gold-plated" pensions, we can now join our colleagues in the private sector in the race to the bottom as final-salary pensions are jettisoned (except of course for the chief executives, and there is no sign of MPs abandoning their platinum-plated pensions, courtesy of the tax-payer).

As a graduate profession, teachers are considerably under-paid when compared to law, medicine or finance. Pensions represent deferred wages and at an average of #163;10,000 per annum aren't exactly a king's ransom.

So now we are hit with Mr Gove's triple whammy - pay more, retire later and receive less. The danger is that NQTs facing the financial pressure of student loans, paying for housing and 9 per cent of their salary in pension contributions will just decide to opt out - who thinks of pensions when they are in their twenties? This will inevitably lead to the total collapse of the teachers' pension scheme.

After three decades of being dumped on from a great height by successive governments, being branded as total, useless incompetents by the media and hounded by Ofsted inspectors, maybe, finally, finally, the outrageous attack on our pensions will be the proverbial straw that breaks the proverbial camel's proverbial back.

Richard Knights, Liverpool.

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