Norfolk teacher’s strike over pension exploitation

Teachers at Aurora Eccles and Aurora Whitehouse schools in Norfolk will begin strike action on Tuesday 26th March after their employer, the Aurora Group, threatened to remove them from their pension scheme via a fire and rehire process. Further strike days are planned on the 27th March, and 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th and 25th of April.

The Aurora Group runs publically funded schools for children and young people with special needs. The DFE have fully funded councils to pay for increased employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and the council has passed this funding onto Aurora.  Aurora are however choosing to skim this off for private profit instead of passing it on to teachers, which means that teachers there will no longer have access to the TPS – the standard pension scheme for teachers in England. Instead, they are being told they must change contracts and move to a cheaper, inferior pension scheme.

NASUWT have repeatedly asked to represent our members at Aurora schools in consultation and negotiation, and the employer has refused. This has caused considerable distress to NASUWT members and leaves them with no option but to strike in order to retain their contracts and retirement arrangements.

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT, said:

“Teachers at Aurora Eccles and Aurora Whitehouse do not want to go on strike. They would muchnas rather be in the classroom. Instead, they are being forced to take industrial action because of the actions of their employer.

“Teachers at Aurora schools are perfectly entitled to remain in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and there is no legitimate reason for our members to be denied access to the pension scheme by this employer.

“We have been clear with the employer that we are ready to get around the table immediately to resolve these disputes. It is now a matter for the employer to recognise the urgency of the situation and come forward with a proposal that will be acceptable to our members.”

Mark Burns, National Executive Member for Norfolk, said:

“School management at Aurora Whitehouse and Aurora Eccles have consistently refused to engage with unions. This approach leaves members with no choice but to strike in order to protect themselves. If a resolution cannot be found, good teachers will leave the school, and pupils there will suffer more in the long term. It is both reasonable and ethical to expect the school to pass on funded pension contributions to its teachers.”