MSPs will consider 11th hour attempt to block a proposed 1.2% contributions increase, due to take effect on Monday

Tim Lezard

Scottish Parliament CannongateEducation unions have called for Members of the Scottish Parliament to reject plans which they say would increase pension contributions for teachers and university lecturers.

MSPs will consider an 11th hour attempt to block the proposed 1.2% contributions increase, due to take effect on Monday (1 April).

It comes as a ballot by the EIS closes today in a consultation among tens of thousands of teachers north of the border which could lead to industrial action over pensions hitting Scottish classrooms later in the spring.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting of the Education and Culture Committee, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The additional increase in teachers’ and lecturers’ pension contributions that the Scottish government intends to impose is, in reality, an additional tax on teaching professionals – not one penny of this cash-grab will go into teachers’ or lecturers’ pensions.

“It is shameful that a Scottish government which claims to oppose the UK Government’s austerity drive and continuing attacks on public sector workers should choose to meekly replicate this Coalition-designed teacher tax in Scotland.”

The Labour MSP Neil Findlay has tabled an annulling motion to the Teachers’ Superannuation (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013.

However, the ruling SNP has a majority on the Education Committee and ministers say they have no leeway under Whitehall regulations to vary the pensions increase.

The claim is strongly disputed by unions north of the border.

UCU Scotland official, Mary Senior, said: “UCU believes that member contributions in the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme should not be increased  to meet the UK government’s spending deficit.

“These increases are being imposed on members due to the UK government’s misguided austerity plan and its attacks on workers’ rights and public sector pensions.

“UCU is disappointed that the Scottish government has not found additional resources from within its own budget to avoid increasing member contributions.”

The EIS consultative ballot is due to close at 10am.

Union officials say they continue to reject government plans which they warn could mean teachers will be forced to work until 68, or even later, in order to afford decent pensions.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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