Lobby for pensions

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TEACHERS from Wigan were today heading to Whitehall to join a mass lobby against cuts to their pensions.

Representatives from the seven major teaching unions attended the mass lobbying in London, with around 5,000 representatives from across Britain marching to the House of Commons to see their MP about changes to pensions.

Wigan’s branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) took three members, while the town was also represented in the delegation from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Education workers were also meeting with Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue to express their deep concerns over the cuts to pensions and attempt to get their backing in the fight to stop the planned changes.

The unions say talented young professionals will be deterred from entering the profession if the plans go ahead and the quality of teaching would suffer.

The Government says changes to public services pensions are vital.

Staff handed in petitions to their MPs against the cuts, while the general secretaries from the seven unions presented the Department of Education with a national petition bearing more than 130,000 signatures.

The day was organised during the half term holidays in order to minimise disruption to school timetables.

Michael Wilson, Wigan branch secretary of the NAHT, said: “The profession is united in condemning the scandalous way hard-earned pensions are being ransacked to pay off the mistakes of others.

“The public has a right to know that cuts would affect the quality of education for young people as high-calibre graduates re-think teaching as a career choice.

“The NAHT will also be challenging the myths about how public sector pensions impact on taxpayers. They are affordable.”

Wigan NUT Divisional Secretary Max Atkins said: “The current pension scheme is solvent, and we have had a few independent reports confirming that, but the Government is using this as an excuse to pay off the debts created by banks, which is totally unfair.

“We are putting more in, getting less out and having to work longer for it. Teaching is now so frenetic and such hard work that few people are still teaching past the age of 55, it’s become a 30-year career which is not long at all.

“Pension cuts will put people off teaching, when they could get less hassle and more money elsewhere.”