Teaching union rejects pension deal


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The Independent Online

Leaders of a teaching union today rejected the Government's controversial public sector pension reforms, delivering a fresh blow to the coalition's hopes of ending the long-running dispute.

The executive of UCAC, which represents thousands of teachers, headteachers and lecturers in Wales, warned that the option of further strikes remained open.

The union leaders, meeting in Aberystwyth, said they wanted to negotiate further with the Government, and will step up its campaign alongside other unions to press for improvements to the offer.

General secretary Elaine Edwards said: "We consulted with members before coming to a decision, and the message has come back loud and clear: the Government's offer is totally unacceptable and teachers and lecturers are prepared to take further action to secure a fairer deal."

The union took part in last year's huge one-day strike by more than one and a half million public sector workers.

The row over pensions remains deadlocked, with some unions warning of fresh industrial action, possibly on March 28.

Meanwhile, doctors' leaders will meet tomorrow to consider their next move, including the possibility of a ballot for industrial action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said its governing council will consider the next steps following overwhelming rejection by doctors and medical students of the Government's offer on pensions.

The BMA said the changes would see younger doctors paying more than £200,000 extra over their lifetime in pension contributions and work eight years longer, to 68.

Officials have urged the Government to reopen talks with the health unions, but said neither the Treasury or the Health Department had signalled any change to their position.

An Education Department spokesman said: "This is very disappointing. This is a good, fair deal - guaranteeing teachers a far better pension than the vast majority of people in the country will ever get but keeping long-term costs firmly under control.

"The deal on the table is as good as it gets. It addresses many of teachers' long-standing concerns, particularly around early retirement.

"We've been in detailed, serious face-to-face dialogue for over three months to nail down the final detail and are not going to reopen the talks.

"Reforms to public sector pensions are essential - the status quo is simply not an option. The cost to the taxpayer of teacher pensions is already forecast to double from £5billion in 2006 to £10billion in 2016 and will carry on rising rapidly as life expectancy continues to improve."