Great Britain

Westholme School strike: Teachers to extend action as dispute enters week three

TEACHERS currently on strike at Blackburn’s fee paying Westholme School have confirmed that their action is to be extended for at least another three days.

This comes as the dispute over pensions enters its third week, with strike dates set for this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with no resolution in sight.

The notice for further action was sent to the school on Tuesday September 15, with the NASUWT teachers saying that they are still hoping to establish a dialogue with school management and confirms teacher will strike again on September 29 and 30 and October 1.

NASUWT national organiser Russ Walters said: “In sending the latest notice out we have reiterated our invitation to seek further talks to seek resolution.

“They were sent this on Tuesday but still we have no response.”

The dispute began earlier this month due to the school authority’s claims that the current teacher pension scheme, to which employers contribute 23.68%, is unaffordable and that in order to reduce costs, staff should be given the option to leave the scheme and join a ‘new defined contribution scheme’.

However, the NASUWT says that the new scheme will leave teachers worse off and claim that staff are being threatened with dismissal if they do not opt out of the old scheme.

In response union members have now been on a series of strikes since September 8, with teachers striking for three days each week since then.

The union had originally balloted its members in March, but delayed strike action until now due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over that period union sources have said that they school has not yet come forward for negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute.

Westholme School meanwhile has continued to keep classes running and insists that pupil’s learning will not be impacted.

In a statement issued at the start of the dispute, chair of governors Brian Marsden said: “We would like to reassure parents that, working with school leadership, we are doing everything we can to minimise any disruption to their children’s education.”

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