Still no deal on teacher pensions
The Government remains embroiled in a row over public sector pensions after failing to win the endorsement of its final offer from the country's biggest teaching unions.
The executive of the NASUWT refused to sign up to the offer, saying it reserved the union's position and claiming that the Department for Education's (DfE) process of trying to reach a deal had been "completely unsatisfactory".
Meanwhile, the executive of the National Union of Teachers called for further "urgent discussions" with the Government on the future of teachers' pensions.
The moves followed a decision by Unite's health executive to reject the proposed deal for NHS workers, and a decision by the British Medical Association to survey around 130,000 doctors and medical students on the Government's final offer, raising the prospect of their first industrial action ballot for over 30 years.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Put bluntly, the NASUWT national executive has recognised that the process the DfE used to seek to reach agreement by its imposed deadline of December 20 was a debacle.
"Valuable time was wasted by the DfE. It failed to provide the necessary information on which meaningful discussions could take place, chopped and changed its mind on the issues which were up for discussion, and presented some potential changes which did not have Treasury approval."
Ms Keates claimed teaching unions were "pressurised and threatened" to sign up to a document last month when a final draft was not available.
The NUT said it remained concerned about proposed increases in employee contributions and pension ages, adding that increasing contributions at a time of real terms pay cuts will lead many teachers to opt out from pension provision.
General secretary Christine Blower said: "We remain committed to a negotiated agreement on pensions but these proposals will not, in our opinion, serve the interests of teachers or the education system. Michael Gove assured us in December that sufficient time and resources would be provided to secure a solution. The Government must face the fact that further discussions and additional funding are needed."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "The deal we set out before Christmas is a fair one for teachers and affordable for taxpayers. It means that teachers will still get a far better pension than the vast majority of people in this country - while we can keep long-term costs firmly under control."