Four days of nationally co-ordinated strike action have been announced across the Girls’ Day School Trust’s independent school in the Wales:
10 February 2022
1 March 2022
2 March 2022
3 March 2022
A single formal ballot, which closed last week, resulted in 95% of teacher members at the 23 schools voting in favour of discontinuous strike action on a turnout of 84%. (1) This is an unprecedented and overwhelming ‘yes’ vote for action, and the strike action will be the first in the Trust’s entire 149-year history.
Howells School will not take part in the strike days planned for 23 February and 24 February due to it being half term.
The Girls’ Day School Trust proposes to remove its teaching staff from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. If this were to go ahead, teachers will be at least 20% worse off on average in terms of the annual amount they receive in pension payments. The Trust has been unable and unwilling to demonstrate any financial imperative for this decision. What is in the public domain shows Trust finances to be in good health.
David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said:
“The Girls’ Day School Trust has no justification in its plan to slash the pensions of its teaching staff. This will be a disaster for staff, for future recruitment and for pupils.
“Teachers always take strike action with a heavy heart, which is why this extraordinary mandate should give the Trust pause. Members are angry and determined to defend what is rightfully theirs. These are committed and hard-working staff who have been pushed to the point of taking action, the like of which the Girls’ Day School Trust has never seen. Teachers’ strength of feeling is unwavering.
“Be in no doubt that this is an attack on members’ terms and conditions of employment. The threat of ‘fire and rehire’ before so much as a word of consultation is all the evidence you need. (2) It is also telling that the Trust has made no compelling argument to make this change to staff pensions. This is because they do not have one.
"Members will not be waiting for the Trust’s final decision in late February. That will be too late. Strike action on 10 February will send a clear message to parents and the wider public that the GDST is taking the wrong path. We call on the Council of the Girls' Day School Trust to unconditionally withdraw the proposal to leave the Teachers’ Pension Scheme now, not later. That is the surest way to settle this matter and avert strike action.”
Contact: Gareth Lloyd – Senior Wales Officer - National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Mob: 07815 071419.
Note to editors:
(1) The formal postal ballot ran from 10 to 26 January 2022. The question put was:
"Are you prepared to take part in sustained and discontinuous strike action in furtherance of this dispute?
"Change to conditions of service [withdrawal from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and/or variation to pension provision]."
GDST own 23 independent girls’ schools across England and Wales. 71% of its teaching staff are members of the NEU, as of December 2021. Only teachers were eligible to vote in the indicative ballot. The NEU also represents staff at GDST working in other capacities.
(2) Notice under Section 188, Trade Union, and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 was given to the NEU even before a word was exchanged in consultation. In a letter to the NEU dated 22 September, the GDST wrote (our italics):
"As you will be aware, the GDST is required to provide further information concerning the consultation, and in particular about the proposed change to terms and conditions of employment. Under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, the GDST must consult with the NEU as the appropriate representatives of the affected employees.
"We hope the proposal to vary terms and conditions can be agreed through the collective consultation process with the NEU. However, where agreement cannot be reached during the consultation and the GDST changes an employee's terms and conditions by issuing contractual notice and re-engaging affected employees on the proposed terms of employment, such a proposal would fall under section 188 of the above legislation, which means we have to provide certain prescribed information.
"However, the GDST very much hopes, through full dialogue, any variation to terms of employment can be agreed with you."
- The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges to form the largest education union in Wales.
- The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.