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Members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union at Mount Kelly School in Tavistock are to take the first of six planned days of strike action on Wednesday over plans by their employer to withdraw from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).

Teachers at the school have been threatened with dismissal if they do not accept the proposed withdrawal from the TPS and downgrading of their pension benefits and securities. The employer has tried to justify this decision on financial grounds but has failed to provide the NASUWT with any evidence to support this or to answer basic questions about the decisions they have made.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“It is the NASUWT’s belief that the employer is seeking use the pandemic as an excuse to push through deleterious changes to teachers’ pension entitlements which will seriously impact on their financial security in retirement.

“Despite requests, the employer has failed to provide any hard evidence of why these changes are necessary. Recent financial records and accounting statements made by the school show significant assets, reserves and investments sufficient to support the school through the short-term financial impact of the pandemic without any need to downgrade teachers’ pensions.

“Seeking to pressurise staff into accepting these changes by threatening them with dismissal is both reprehensible and an insult to the dedication that staff have shown to pupils and to the school throughout the pandemic.

“We urge the employer to reflect on its actions and to enter into negotiations with us to address the concerns of our members so that industrial action can be avoided.”

Nigel Williams, NASUWT National Executive Member for Devon, said:

“Pensions are in effect deferred wages and seeking to unilaterally force through a downgrading of these entitlements is a breach of both teachers’ contracts and the bond of goodwill and mutual trust between an employer and their employees.

This dispute is within the context of teachers at the school receiving a real-terms pay cut in recent years, whilst at the same time the school has increased fees by above inflation, leading to large budget surpluses each year.

“Members cannot stand by and accept being railroaded on important contractual entitlements in this way. No teacher wishes to cause any disruption to pupils or parents, but in the absence of any meaningful consultation or collegiality from the employer our members have regrettably been left with no other choice than to take industrial action.”

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