Tuesday, 14 June 2011

That's What I Go To School For...

So today saw the announcement from two of the main unions representing teachers in the UK, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), that they are planning the first of a series of strikes later this month. The news was met with mixed reactions. Some supported the rights of the strikers to do just that. Others lambasted the selfish action of those charged with the education of our future generations.

The strike is, of course, over the amendments proposed by Lord Hutton in his report of earlier this year. Now the crux of the matter was nicely surmised by the union spokesladies. They are seeking to justify their striking stating that the evil plans of the Government meant that they would have to work for longer, pay more towards their pensions and ultimately receive less.

Now I shall sit down to try to deal with this staggering news. Already seated, so there's a moment saved. Yup, I think I'm over it. I'm not sure I should be that impressed that it took an entire two unions' worth of teachers and lecturers to work out the Government's proposals. Maybe I have missed the point? I think the idea the unions are proposing is that this move is in some way a) unfair (ah, the "fair" word again), and b) malicious.

As I have been into in rather more depth already (here), public sector pensions and national pensions were devised when the population was a fraction of what it is now, when life expectancy was far shorter and when people accepted a lower base standard of living. Getting 40 years work out of someone and then paying for 40 years rest probably won't work if they only put a small amount in. It probably won't work if the country doesn't discover endless wells of oil just outside Bracknell. It probably won't work if we continue to define a "fair" amount to live on as what will pay for luxury goods as a staple rather that a luxury.

In short, there clearly isn't enough money to keep on with the original plan. One has to adapt when situations change. Anyone who cannot see that the goalposts have moved is an arse, plainly put. So, anyone planning on striking over this is a little simple for my money. Now I might have accepted a defence of not understanding the exact economics of it all from perhaps the union of village idiots (should such a thing exist, and I'm doing my best to resist the temptation here to liken a great many unions to this one), but from the teachers?

Maybe then it won't be such a shame if they all go on strike as anyone failing to comprehend the need for amendment to pension policy probably shouldn't be teaching our children even basic arithmetic. Get with the program people - you aren't victims, you're not targets, it's just adapting to the realities of modern life, plain and simple. Burying your head in the sand and saying "I want the same pension as they used to hand out", ignoring the glaring impracticalities and unaffordability won't work. Striking over this is idiotic. There are too many of us living too long and not enough dosh. You can't just magic the money out of thin air. Although Ed Balls will probably come out to say he could.

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