'Provocative' pensions move denounced

The Government risked further industrial action in schools yesterday by pushing ahead with rises to teachers' pension contributions.

Headteachers' leaders immediately attacked the announcement as "unnecessarily provocative".

They warned that it would make it harder to reach a settlement to the dispute, which led to the closure of 76 per cent of all state schools in a one-day strike last month. The rise in contributions was one of the three key issues that prompted the action, along with a rise in the retirement age and cuts to the pensions themselves.

The new plans mean that headteachers earning more than £112,000 year will see their pension contributions rise by more than a third, from 6.4 per cent to 8.8 per cent. The average teacher earning around £32,000 a year will see their contributions rise from 6.4 per to 7.6 per cent, while those earning less than £15,000 will have their contributions frozen.

Teachers' leaders and other public sector unions are keeping their powder dry over the prospect of further industrial action while talks on the scheme continue. But privately some feel the announcement will make it harder to reach a settlement and may provoke further strike action.