More strikes at independent schools
Teachers at Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow are taking a further six days of strike action on August 29, 30, 31 and September 5, 6, and 14, STV News has reported.
The teachers are being transferred from the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme (STPS) to the schools’ alternative defined contribution scheme, which has prompted the action from the NASUWT union.
Members of the union have already taken two days of strike action last month.
Dr Patrick Roach, the union’s general secretary, said: “We warned the employer that its decision to renege on its agreements could result in further industrial action. They have failed to heed this warning and so we have been left with no other option but to announce further strike action.
“NASUWT members withdrew strike action in good faith and to respect the outcome of negotiations that had taken place. However, the employer’s behaviour throughout has shown a monumental lack of integrity.
“There is not a shred of decency in how the school is treating its teaching staff. Teachers deserve better. It is time that this school learned to practise the values and behaviours it seeks to instil in its students.
“Not only does the employer seemingly have little respect for its own staff, it is also apparently content to subject pupils and parents to further disruption and lost learning time as well.
“We have endeavoured to act with openness and integrity throughout what has been a very arduous process of trying to negotiate with this employer. It is deeply disappointing that they are not prepared to do the same.”
NASUWT’s national official in Scotland Mike Corbett commented: “In moving to force through the transfer of teachers’ pensions the employer is going against Scottish government guidance which states that independent schools looking to withdraw from the STPS should do so on a phased basis and in a manner which protects the pension rights of currently employed teachers by allowing them to maintain scheme membership.
“Instead the employer is choosing to ride roughshod over employees’ rights by enforcing an ‘all out’ approach to pensions and threatening to sack anyone who does not accept a downgrading of their future financial security.
“Our members are not going to be bullied into giving up on this dispute and it is about time the employer recognised this. There is still an opportunity to avert this strike action but this needs the employer to agree to re-enter negotiations with us and pause the planned transfer of teachers’ pensions.”
Meanwhile teachers More House School in Moons Hill, Frensham, Surrey have been called out on strike by the National Education Union after the school’s governors proposed changes to the teachers’ pension arrangements.
More House caters for boys with specific learning and language difficulties.
The union stated: “Teachers in the TPS will have to fund the difference via reduced take-home pay – in real terms, this equates to a 5.18% pay cut.”
A strike took place on three days this month and further action is scheduled for July 4, 5 and 6.
A striking member of staff told the Alton Herald: “There are 475 pupils at this school and on the strike days, there are just 18 teachers. None of us wanted to take this action – about 73 members of staff are affected – but we don’t know what else we can do.
“So far our negotiations have seen a 7% pay cut reduce to a 5% pay cut – but that’s nowhere near enough. Who can afford to take a pay cut?
“The school already has difficulties recruiting teachers in English, science, maths and art, and retaining the teachers it already has, and this is hardly going to help matters.”