Created on: 18 May 2023
Today, we, the EIS members at the School, are taking strike action to protect our pensions.
We have been forced into taking this action after exhausting all other options. On 21st November 2022, we were told by the School that it proposed removing teachers from the "defined benefit" Scottish government pension scheme that most other state and independent schools are in, to an inferior "defined contribution" private pension scheme.
The School opened a consultation in November which continued through the holiday period and closed in January 2023. More than 80% of teachers said they did not wish to change their pension. The School decided to withdraw from the pension scheme, regardless.
We were written to over the Easter holidays and dismissed from our current contracts with our STPS pensions and told to sign new employment contracts that included the new pension. If we did not sign the new contracts then we would not have posts at the end of the school year. Most of us have families and cannot risk not having a job - almost all of us signed to avoid being dismissed.
The above process has been described as a "fire and rehire" by EIS solicitors. This example of 'fire and rehire' is shocking for teachers at Hutchesons' Grammar who have always been loyal to the School, its pupils and parents. Over sixty of us have since stated we signed under duress or unwillingly. We feel that we have little choice but to take strike action.
The letter may be found on our website if you wish to read the school’s "fire and rehire" letter.
The School management has refused to negotiate on its pension plan, stating there is no financial alternative.
Our union, the EIS, is not aggressive but reacts to injustice and unfairness. At Hutchesons' there has been no industrial action in 381 years, but we have been left with no choice but to take industrial action to protect our pensions.
Parents should note that we the teaching staff had our Hutchesons' salary enhancement removed during the pandemic, in order, we understood to protect pupils' schooling during a very difficult time. The Chair of the Governing Body stated the School's aim to reinstate the enhancement beginning with a 0.8% increase in August 2023.
It should be noted that staff have continued to be understanding of this, even though our colleagues in two nearby independent schools have enhancements of 8% and 10% above the national pay scale.
Taking any form of industrial action is not something that we ever imagined ourselves doing. Throughout this difficult period, we have continued to run extra-curricular clubs and supported study sessions and to provide the high-quality exam preparation for which the school is known despite a great deal of pressure being put on us to accept the inferior pension and to not make a fuss.
We hope that whilst you may not agree with our strike, you will at least understand why it has happened.
Hutchesons' Grammar School EIS Branch