An indicative ballot of National Education Union teacher members working in the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST)'s independent schools has shown overwhelming opposition to the employer's plan to withdraw from the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS). GDST run Howell’s School in Cardiff where members will be included in this ballot.
93% of members voted in favour of moving to a strike ballot, on a turnout of 93%. (1)
The union will now move to a formal strike ballot to be conducted in January 2022. Potential dates for discontinuous strike action are still to be decided. These would constitute the first days of strike action in the Trust's entire 149-year history.
Under the proposal to leave the TPS, teachers will be at least 20% worse off on average in terms of the annual amount they receive in pension payments. Teachers have already reluctantly accepted a pay freeze this year and seen their standard of living fall over several years with pay increases below inflation.
Staff are also angry that their employer has threatened them with a policy of 'fire and rehire' to drive these changes through. (2)
Financial accounts for the Trust, in the public domain, show Trust finances in good health. There is no justification for withdrawal from the TPS, and so far, the employer has failed to provide a compelling argument in defence of their plan.
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"This is a clear and emphatic message to the Girls' Day School Trust. It should leave the employer in no doubt about the strength of feeling against this unacceptable attack on teacher pensions. During the period of the indicative ballot, the employer has failed to dispel the concerns of our members.
"This is an exceptionally strong mandate. It makes strike action look inevitable. The Trust should reflect on just how a large body of committed and hard-working staff have reached this point. Members are resolved and rightly determined to defend their pensions.
"We sincerely hope that strikes can be averted. We call on the GDST to engage seriously with the National Education Union and withdraw the proposal to leave the Teachers’ Pension Scheme."
Contact: Gareth Lloyd, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 2049 1818 Mobile: 07815 071 419