Defined Benefit  

Union staff on strike over pension changes

Union staff on strike over pension changes

Employees of a trade union have gone on strike over changes to their defined benefit (DB) pension scheme.

The strike has affected the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), with a walk-out taking place today and more scheduled for next month.

According to the GMB union, which has 142 members in the pension fund, the strike is over changes to the pension scheme and the pay deal, which were both imposed without the agreement of staff.

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Under the proposals, staff will have to work for 45 years to fund a half salary pension – which compares unfavourably with the accrual rate for the teachers NASUWT represent, the GMB said.

David Warwick, GMB organiser, told FTAdviser the union had been unable to get information on the last valuation of the DB scheme, which would show its potential deficit, and also didn't have information on the number of members of the pension fund.

The teachers’ union is also imposing a three-year pay deal, which the GMB said removes its members' ability to negotiate a re-opener clause that was triggered in the previous two year pay deal because inflation had outstripped it.

The GMB was told the only basis for any further discussion would be for the employer to explain directly to the union the outcome of the consultation and its decision, it said.

A spokesman for NASUWT, which represents teachers across the UK, declined to disclose any information regarding the pension scheme.

Chris Keates, NASUWT's general secretary, said these changes guarantee its employees a DB pension scheme and a pay award of RPI for each of the next three years.

She said: "These changes were proposed following agreement reached under the auspices of ACAS on 14 June 2018 with the negotiators of the recognised staff unions – GMB and Unite.

"On 11 October, under the auspices of ACAS, the NASUWT reaffirmed to GMB its commitment to discussions on the current pension scheme and its willingness to enter discussions on a future pay mechanism. Disappointingly, the GMB has rejected the offer and is continuing with its planned strike action.

"The NASUWT is committed to ensuring the best possible terms and conditions of employment for its staff and will continue to work with both recognised staff unions to that end."

The industrial action will continue on November 5 and November 9, after 87.6 per cent of strike GMB members voting in favour of such measure.

maria.espadinha@ft.com