Teachers at Birkenhead School to be balloted for strike over pension and contract changes

Teachers at Birkenhead School, a fee-paying independent School, are set to be balloted to take industrial action.

The ballot, taking place in early January, is in protest of the employer’s proposals to stop paying its contributions towards the teachers’ pension scheme alongside further detrimental changes to staff contracts.

The employer currently does not recognise trade unions and has refused to sign a voluntary trade union recognition agreement with the National Education Union (NEU). The NEU members at the school have already indicated their support for strike action in an indicative ballot with a turnout of 95% and a yes vote of 80%.

They are demanding that the employer withdraw its proposals and enter into structured and formalised negotiation and consultation with the union.

Bora Oktas, NEU Regional Officer, said, “Our members at Birkenhead School are taking a stand against the employer’s unacceptable and unilateral actions that threaten their pension rights and working conditions.

“The employer has shown a complete disregard for the views and concerns of the staff and the union. We urge the employer to rethink its proposals and engage in constructive dialogue with the NEU to resolve this dispute.”

Mike Farrelly, NEU District Assistant Secretary of Wirral, said, “The NEU believes that a recognition agreement with the employer would have facilitated a constructive dialogue and a fair resolution of the issues raised by the staff.

“It would have given the union a formal basis to represent the interests of its members and to negotiate on their behalf on the employer’s proposed changes to teachers’ pension, pay, terms and conditions. The NEU regrets that the employer has not agreed to recognise the union, despite repeated requests from the staff and the union.

“This has made it harder to avoid a dispute and to protect the quality of education at the school. Our members strike as a last resort, it is a shame that we have reached this point, it could have so easily been avoided.”

Peter Middleman, NEU Regional Secretary, said, “This is a clear case of an employer trying to impose detrimental changes on its staff without any genuine consultation or justification. The NEU will not tolerate such behaviour and will support our members in taking action to defend their interests and the quality of education at the school.

“We call on the employer to respect the staff’s democratic decision and come back to the negotiating table with a fair and reasonable offer.”

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