Pensions attack could be straw that breaks our backs

20th May 2011 at 01:00

We know it's daylight robbery of our pension pot and a breach of a tacit contract between state and teachers which recognises the "unique circumstances" of the teaching profession, but I fear the public don't buy this.

It will be difficult to win hearts and minds when the public have been steeped in press coverage bemoaning teachers' gold plated pensions. Placatory comments about how there should not be a rush to the bottom, whereby public sector pensions are diminished just because private section pensions have been will fall on deaf ears.

What needs to be made clear to the public is that not only do we get the press we deserve, we will end up with a public sector we deserve unless there's an understanding that public sector workers, and teachers in particular, are essentially decent folk who accept a lower wage over a lifetime because they want to contribute to society in a spirit which is largely altruistic.

If pensions are decimated as proposed, it sends this message to teachers and all public servants: we don't value this contribution; public service is not a noble pursuit; we will not look after you with a modest, but relatively comfortable pension as recognition of this. It will usher in a mean spiritedness which will have profound consequences for the future by undermining the concept of public service.

We need to convince the public that the message being sent to teachers as a result of the pensions shake-up threatens a fundamental good in society - the urge to selflessly nurture and care for our children.

Richard Hand, Little Heath School, Reading.

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