STUC: EIS to move Emergency Motions on Hutchesons Grammar School

Created on: 19 Apr 2023 | Last modified: 20 Apr 2023

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), will move two Emergency Motions at this year’s annual meeting of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).

The EIS Motions relate to two current areas of industrial dispute: Hutchesons’ Grammar School carrying out a mass ‘fire and rehire’ to force teachers to accept new contracts incorporating inferior pensions, and the underfunding of Further Education Colleges including budget, education and staff cuts and a substandard pay offer to lecturers.

The EIS is currently balloting members at Hutchesons’ Grammar School for industrial action in defence of their pensions. Like the overwhelming majority of independent school teachers in Scotland, Hutchesons’ Grammar School teachers are members of the Scottish Teachers Pension Scheme – i.e. the state guaranteed defined benefit pension.  In order to make long-term financial savings, Hutchesons’ Grammar School asked staff to agree a new contract with a private defined contribution pension (which will be inferior to the state backed pension currently provided.)

Based on EIS advice, the majority of staff refused. On March 28, Hutcheson’s Grammar School issued dismissal letters to these teachers and stated that it would only rehire them if they agreed the new contract with its inferior pension.  As of 19th April, a significant number of staff at Hutchesons’ Grammar School are serving out their notice as they refused to be bullied into giving up their teachers’ pension. The school has also, this week, told members of staff that they have until Friday to sign the new contract, or their jobs will be advertised on Monday.

College lecturers are set to begin a programme of industrial action on 2nd May, having backed both action short of strike and strike action in a recent statutory ballot in pursuit of a fair pay offer. (The current FE [pay offer for 2022-23 is 2%).

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “The attack on the terms and conditions of teachers working at Hutchesons’ Grammar School is an absolute disgrace. The school says it does not have financial problems, yet is choosing to ‘fire and hire’ its staff to save money by making changes to pension provision that would leave teachers significantly worse off in retirement. The tactics that this fee-pay school is using are those of the worst type of employer and have absolutely no place in Scottish education. The dedication and hard work of teachers at Hutchesons’ Grammar School are not being repaid by the school, who seem driven to save money at the staff’s pension expense.”

On FE colleges, Ms Bradley said, “For far too long, Further Education has been an underfunded and poorly managed sector within Scotland’s education system. Further Education is vital to Scotland, and delivers opportunities to people of all ages right across the country. The continuing squeeze on college funding and the frequent attacks on the jobs and contracts of college staff are harming the sector, and damaging the educational chances of many thousands of people across the country. Scotland must have a well-funded and well-run college sector, with appropriately paid staff.”

The text of the EIS Emergency Motions to the STUC are attached, on the following page. An anonymised copy of a ‘fire and rehire’ letter, received by a member of staff at Hutchesons’ Grammar School, is attached for information.