NEU members speak out on cuts to their pension

Read Time 3 mins | Friday 26 March, 12:00

  • NEU is imposing pension cuts to their staff in the middle of a global pandemic
  • Members will have to pay higher contributions but will get less when they retire
  • NEU can make a much better offer for a safe and secure retirement
  • NEU tells its members not to accept a cut in pension, the same should apply to its staff
  • Pensions are deferred pay, this is a pay cut

By NEU Branch members

Despite repeated attempts by the UWU to engage the NEU in negotiations, our employer is continuing with their plans to cut our pension in the middle of a pandemic. This not only contradicts the advice the NEU gives to its members if their pension is threatened but it also undermines the values the NEU is built on: support, inclusivity, empowerment, commitment, integrity, collaboration and flexibility.

Your pension is part of your pay package.  It is deferred pay.  It forms part of the deal you agree to with the employer when you sign the contract to work at NEU (and previously at ATL and NUT).  Any cut to your pension is a cut to your pay.  NEU risks not only losing the good will of existing staff but also losing current staff and the ability to attract high quality candidates to apply for future roles.

The proposed changes will not support staff in having a decent standard of living in retirement. Staff will be contributing more and getting less while the NEU actively saves money through contributing less and by moving to one scheme administrator. This could lead to some staff members withdrawing from the pension scheme all together which puts it at further risk. 

The changes will have the greatest impact on those who are furthest from retirement age. A UWU member at the beginning of their career with the NEU will be paying an additional £297 a year in pension contributions and yet receive £3,330 less a year when they retire than they would on their current pension scheme. These figures are using the NEU’s pensions modeller.

“I was excited to join the NEU as a member of staff having been an activist, I know how important staff are to activists and to the wider work of the union and yet we are being treated like second class citizens. It has made me see the NEU in  a new light. They need to do better than this. They need to invest in us.”

UWU Member

This gap only gets worse as the CPI inflation increases. The proposed revaluation rate cap of 2.5% does not adequately protect staff’s futures when the CPI inflation rate has reached levels of 5.2% in the last ten years. This means that staff are more likely to seek opportunities externally which will require additional recruitment and training costs (as well as increased workloads for existing staff). Hardly in keeping with the NEU’s desire to empower employees to make a lasting impact. 

As outlined previously, our demands are:

  • Immediate pause in the statutory consultation process in line with the NEU’s own advice to its members.
  • Genuine and meaningful negotiations for a future scheme that members support
  • Employer to increase contributions to keep Final Salary benefits or significantly improved CARE benefits, including:
    • Accrual rate comparable to TPS (1/57th)
    • Maintaining 4x Death in Service benefits
    • Greater certainty in a secure retirement through an improved revaluation rate cap (at least 7.5%)

In addition, we demand a full equality impact assessment on all options that is shared with staff and informs the final agreement with staff. 

The NEU’s unwillingness to engage with the UWU shows that they do not wish to collaborate with their staff and they aren’t open and responsive to new ideas or points of view. How can they say we have a shared commitment to making a positive difference to the organisation when they are shamelessly cutting their staff’s pensions to save money. 

This process has not been transparent and has not modelled the behaviour we would expect for NEU members. If the NEU had integrity they would meaningfully negotiate with trade unions, including the UWU, and find a much better offer for a safe and secure retirement for their staff.