TEACHERS at Chester’s Abbey Gate College were on the picket line today (Wednesday, July 10) as part of an ongoing dispute about the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).

Today is the second of seven planned strike days – the first being Monday (July 8) – with another five scheduled to take place in September.

Striking members of the NASUWT at the private school say that they disagree with Abbey Gate’s claims that the school cannot maintain staff on the TPS scheme without requiring an additional contribution, taken from those teachers’ salaries.

Teachers were pictured with signs and placards, including the message "7% pay cut to keep pension".

The school says that an alternative pension scheme has been developed, however teachers feel that they are effectively being forced to choose between their pay or their pension.

(Image: West Cheshire Trades Union Council)

Speaking last week, Bryan McConnell, NASUWT National Executive Member for Chester, said:

“We do not accept the employers’ claim that it is beyond their means to maintain teachers in the TPS.

“They need to end their intransigent attitude, show staff some respect and agree to work with us to find a way forward which is not predicated on attacking the terms and conditions of hard-working teachers.”

The Board of Governors for Abbey Gate have said that hikes in the cost of TPS are putting private schools under “significant pressure”.

They add: “Abbey Gate College Governors commenced consultation last October for the school to enrol staff in alternative, appropriately funded pension arrangements, including an option to remain in the TPS. We are now in the final stage of the individual part of the consultation process and the majority of our teaching staff have accepted the new terms and conditions proposed.

“All teaching staff at Abbey Gate College are receiving a salary increase of 3.5% during the next academic year. Where any staff have made the decision to remain in TPS, they consequently commit to a further salary contribution, to offset the increased cost of this more expensive scheme.”