Second union joins strike action at FM's former private school

Members of the NASUWT union say the strike action will commence on Tuesday in a dispute over pensions and contracts.

NASUWT union joins strike action at Hutchesons’ Grammar School Google Maps

Another teaching union at the former high school of First Minister Humza Yousaf has joined a plan for strike action.

Members of the NASUWT at Hutchesons’ Grammar, a private school in Glasgow, have announced they will walk out on Tuesday as part of a dispute over pensions after the school announced a withdrawal from the Scottish Teacher Pension Scheme (STPS).

Union bosses say staff pensions have been downgraded and they have been asked to sign “inferior contracts”.

The school said it met with unions last week, adding the STPS was withdrawn to “cap pension costs at a sustainable level to keep fees affordable to as many families as possible”.

However the NASUWT say no offer was made which would justify withdrawing strike action.

The strikes will commence on Tuesday and further days of strike action are planned for Wednesday and June 7 and 8.

The school, which parents pay up to £16,177 a year for, was also attended by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

The action by the NASUWT comes after members of the EIS, the country’s largest teaching union, were the first to take strike action in the school’s history.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “It is regrettable that it is only at the 11th hour that the school agreed to sit down with us to discuss a resolution to this dispute.

“It is clear that it is only the refusal of members to accept being treated in such a shoddy manner that has brought the employer to the table.

“While we remain committed to working with the employer to resolve this dispute, until such time as concrete proposals come forward from the employer, the planned strike action will continue.

“We have made it clear to the employer that we are ready to meet at any time to continue talks and hope that concrete proposals can be brought forward by the school that will safeguard our members’ pensions and enable us to resolve this dispute.”

Mike Corbett, the NASUWT’s national official for Scotland, said: “Members at Hutchesons’ have made the very difficult and brave decision to stand up for their rights in the face of immense pressure and hostility from their employer.

“It is disappointing and frustrating that the employer has not acted before now to open talks with us that could have avoided industrial action and the consequent disruption to pupils and parents.

“If the employer is serious about wanting to resolve this dispute it must now bring forward detailed and credible plans for teachers’ pensions that can start to rebuild the trust and confidence of staff.”

A spokesperson for the school previously said the board of governors was “extremely disappointed” in the industrial action.

The school also insisted the withdrawal from the pension scheme is needed to ensure the institution’s costs remain sustainable.

A Hutchesons’ spokesperson said it was “disappointed” the strike action was continuing to go ahead, adding they “strongly rejected” claims of “fire and rehire” practices.

“The school carried out a 60-day consultation which is longer than legally required to ensure it was a thorough process and not rushed. It included both collective consultation and individual consultations,” the spokesperson said.

“The board has been very clear that the reason for withdrawing from the STPS is to cap pension costs at a sustainable level to keep fees affordable to as many families as possible and thus protect the jobs of teachers going forward.

“That decision was taken following a 60-day consultation period with staff. All but one member of staff accepted the change to pension.

“The board knows that many of the teachers are upset by the school’s withdrawal from the STPS. They are very aware of the depth of feeling amongst some of our teachers.

“The school is facing a number of financial headwinds including the ongoing impact of the government’s decision last year to remove rates relief and increased supplier costs across the board. The recently agreed national teachers’ pay award of 14% was higher than anticipated but we are pleased to have been able to implement it and indeed back-date it.

“Increasing financial pressures are not unique to Hutchesons’ and the independent school sector, as a whole, is feeling the impact of recent political decisions. We are beginning to see the fall-out from the removal of rates relief in other schools which have recently seen compulsory redundancies.

“While Hutchesons’ is in good financial health currently, it was necessary to take the hard decision to withdraw from the STPS to ensure that this continues to be the case.”

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