Portsmouth High School teachers set to stage further strike action amid pension plan row

TEACHERS at a Portsmouth school will be going on strike for a second time in a row over a pensioners scheme.

Monday, 28th February 2022, 3:09 pm
Updated Monday, 28th February 2022, 3:30 pm

Members of the National Education Union (NEU), based at Portsmouth High School, will be staging the demonstration from tomorrow as part of a three-day protest.

It is the second set of strikes carried out by the school as part of a six-day coordinated campaign of industrial action.

The demonstration followed the move by the Portsmouth school’s owners, Girls’ Day School Trust, to remove teaching staff from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Portsmouth High School teachers are set to participate in further strike action this week.

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Some 18 schools, run by the trust, are taking part in the industrial action, which begins tomorrow (Tuesday) and ends on Thursday,

Commenting on the strike action this week, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: ‘We welcome moves by the Girls’ Day School Trust to find a solution to the current dispute, but successive proposals have been inadequate or incomplete.

‘We do not yet know the full detail of their latest plan, which appears to have unknown strings attached and was delivered too late for proper consideration. Finding a quicker resolution is very much in the gift of the employer, whereas the NEU will continue with the overwhelming mandate of its members to keep up the pressure.

‘First impressions are that the GDST’s latest proposal will create an unwelcome two-tier system for our members, worsening conditions over time including a real-terms pay cut. It is in the trust’s interests to continue talks with the recognised union, but we are not yet able to properly assess their proposal and therefore strikes will go ahead this week.’

The Girls Day School Trust (GDST) has been pursuing the plan to remove teaching staff from the national pension scheme, which was approved on Monday, February 21 in a meeting of trustees.

The NEU met with the employer on Wednesday, February 23, where they made a proposal to the trust to settle the dispute.

Representatives from the NEU stated that if the initial proposal was to go ahead, teachers would be at least 20 per cent worse off on average in terms of the annual amount they receive in pension payments.

Speaking to The News earlier this month, Charlotte Lawrence, joint district secretary for the Portsmouth Branch and District, said: ‘The trust should reflect on just how a large body of committed and hard-working staff have reached the point where they feel forced to take strike action at Portsmouth High School for the first time in the trust’s 149-year history.

‘Members are resolved and rightly determined to defend their pensions.’

On Friday, the trust replied with a different proposal that would allow teachers to stay on the scheme but with significant conditions attached and insufficient details on the two-tier system which was set to be created.

The new proposal has now led to further strike action which will continue this week and the NEU has stated that teachers will be on the picket line from 7am tomorrow.

GDST owns 23 independent schools across England and Wales, with currently 75 per cent of its teaching staff members of the NEU.

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