Now civil servants and headteachers threaten to strike over pensions

Headteachers, doctors, top civil servants and police chiefs joined forces last night with major trade unions to present a united front against changes to public-sector pensions that look likely to trigger a summer of industrial discontent.

Ministers were warned they would face a backlash that would bring together professional organisations and traditionally militant unions if the Government implemented proposals from the Labour peer Lord Hutton for a radical overhaul of pensions.

Lecturers are set to walk out within weeks over changes to pensions and teachers and civil servants are planning to ballot members next month on industrial action. The GMB union said the Hutton plans could "light the blue touch paper for industrial action", while the Public and Commercial Services union said strikes were inevitable if the proposals were implemented. Union leaders will meet the Government next week over moves that have already been announced to raise public-sector employees' pension contributions by 3 per cent. But the situation has been inflamed by Lord Hutton's key recommendation that public-sector workers should lose their final salary pensions and instead be enrolled in schemes linked to their average pay.

Lord Hutton also called for the age at which most public-sector staff start drawing their pension to be brought in line with the state pension age, while members of the armed forces, police and firefighters would not be able to retire before 60.

He said his proposals would make the pension arrangements of millions of public-sector employees fairer and more affordable. The Government would not be drawn on his plans, but George Osborne, the Chancellor, is expected to indicate in the Budget on 23 March that he is sympathetic to most of them. One exception could be proposed changes to armed forces pensions, which can currently be claimed in full after 22 years of service; ministers may feel wary of cutting back those entitlements with troops in action in Afghanistan. An early flashpoint could be Britain's schools, where the two biggest headteachers' organisations warned of industrial action for the first time in their history.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have sounded out members and found a substantial majority would be prepared to take industrial action. The University and College Union is expecting members to start strike action later this month after their employers ruled out talks over moves to increase pension contributions.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers predicted a stampede for early retirement in August. Doctors' leaders delivered a similar warning, predicting an exodus of GPs in their 50s, who would choose to retire rather than agree to work to an older age.

Even the Police Superintendents' Association joined the outcry. Tim Jackson, its national deputy secretary, said: "Officers feel they are being made to take more than their fair share of the economic pain."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence