THE BLOG
05/07/2011 07:38 BST | Updated 06/09/2011 06:12 BST

Why Teachers Are Right To Strike - And Why That Should Be The Tory Point Of View

The Government is trying to save money in the public sector; that's fine - indeed, that's a big part of what I voted for. However, I'm not in favor of unfair, symbolic, ideological cuts. Why are cuts to teacher's pensions unfair, ideological & symbolic? Simple: The Teachers Pension Scheme is not making a loss.

The Government is trying to save money in the public sector; that's fine - indeed, that's a big part of what I voted for. However, I'm not in favor of unfair, symbolic, ideological cuts. Why are cuts to teacher's pensions unfair, ideological & symbolic? Simple: The Teachers Pension Scheme is not making a loss.

In 2006 the Teacher Pension Scheme was costing the public money and it shouldn't be funded by other taxpayers, of course. Teachers had their pension age extended to 65 and their contributions increased by £100 per month - afterwards, the Scheme paid its own way. The extra money being taken off teachers isn't going to the pension pot, it's going to the Treasury.

That's the crucial point.

Teachers are not the RMT, striking because two louts have been fired for putting public safety at risk. They are not Socialist Worker readers fulfilling their pathetic little plastic trumpet general strike fantasy (take note, Mark Serwotka).Teachers are citizens being asked for £150 extra pension contribution per month, in return for a 15% pension cut. If teachers were asked to take a direct pay cut at a time where inflation is running at 5%, then a strike over pay is definitely morally justifiable; that's what collective bargaining is all about.

Too many ministers and commentators act as if the Teacher's pension was a welfare benefit. In fact, in a free Market, public sector pensions are a financial product. As the fund is self sustaining, it is deeply unreasonable to expect that product to be torn up on the altar of political expediency. Allowing governments to feel pensions are "theirs" or even "taxpayers money" is a dangerous precedent and a nonsense.

The money is transferred directly from the teachers; it isn't "taxpayers money" in any but the most Stalinist hypothecated definition of the public finances.

To make teachers pay £1800 a year more for a pension which is £1800 a year less, when teachers are not actually costing the public finances anything to begin with... that's outrageous. If I was a teacher, I'd be out on strike. This is a straight, unfair tax hike, dressed up as pension reform and frankly the government should be ashamed to have proposed it. And I say all this as a card-carrying Conservative.