ATL conference heard the planned scheme – which is still rejected by most teaching unions – could become unaffordable for some members if staff contributions rise further


The national conference of the ATL has resolved to monitor opt-out rates from the government’s proposed new pensions scheme for teachers and to raise any concerns about the numbers of new entrants and part-time teachers in the scheme.

Delegates called on the leadership to raise ‘any concerns with government as a matter of urgency.’

Last January, a ballot of ATL members returned more than 91% votes in favour of accepting the Coalition’s Heads of Agreement pension plans.

The conference, in Manchester, heard the planned scheme – which is still being opposed by a number of teaching unions – could become unaffordable for lower-paid members if employee contributions continue to rise under any future valuations.

A separate resolution calling for a change in the union’s rules so that at least 51% of members balloted would have to vote in favour of a strike before the ATL could call industrial action, was lost.

Some Conservative ministers and lobbyists have called for a similar threshold to be enforced for all strike ballots. So far, the minimum has not been formally proposed in the Coalition’s legislative programme.

A call for a referendum of ATL members to determine if the union should remain affiliated to the TUC was also lost.

When the ATL took part in coordinated strikes on public sector pensions on 30th June and 30th November last year, it was the first time the union had joined industrial of that kind in its 127-year history.

ATL – which represents some 160,000 teachers – says the current proposals are the best that can be achieved by negotiation.

Officials point out that they have managed to secure a concession from the Treasury that independent sector teachers will be included in the new scheme when it starts in 2015.

They have also warned that ministers have threatened to impose worse pension conditions if there is further industrial action by teaching unions.

Delegates to the 3-day conference voted to “reaffirm ATL’s belief in ‘consultation rather than confrontation’ as the guiding principle in resolving disputes” and that officials would exhaust other means of resolving disputes in future before calling a ballot on strike action ‘as a clear last resort’.

Separately, delegates also called for the enforcement of the national minimum wage for interns and alternatives to the Coalition’s ‘forced academies’ policy.

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