Winchester College strike vote as Radley seeks union recognition

Independent sector teachers could join state counterparts in strikes over pay

NEU strike ballot

Staff at Winchester College have voted for strike action over pay in an indicative ballot, The Times reports.

The news comes as the National Education Union (NEU) launched its independent sector pay campaign this week, encouraging all of its independent school memberships to submit a collective NEU pay claim in their individual school for September 2023.

The NEU confirmed that NEU staff members at Winchester held an indicative ballot over five days in November and December after a below-inflation pay offer. They are also in a dispute over pensions. A majority of teachers at Winchester are members of the NEU.

Eighty-nine per cent of staff balloted voted in favour of strike action on a turnout of 83 per cent. A formal ballot has begun and is expected to return a mandate for industrial action, which would take place next month.

And industrial action could spread across independent schools: The NEU confirmed today that it was making a statutory application for trade union recognition at Radley College.

Earlier this week, the NEU declared seven days of strike action in February and March in a separate national dispute over pay.

A separate national ballot by the NASUWT teaching union failed to make the threshold for turnout last week, although members in more than 100 independent schools successfully voted for strike action, the union said. It was not able to provide further details of which schools might be affected.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU said: “Our 32,000 members -teachers and support staff – who work in independent schools are suffering one of the greatest cost of living crises in living memory. Many are suffering real hardship. Inflation has hit a 40 year high. The Retail Price Index for the year to November 2022 running at 14 per cent. Once upon a time an increase of 4 per cent might have cut the mustard. Now that would be a whopping 10 per cent lower than inflation. Something must be done. And if employers are not going to do it, then our members will.”

The NEU said it expected an “upsurge” in pay claims in February as it was “the optimum time to influence the decision for the following academic year”.

The threat of strikes comes after NEU members in the Girls’ Day Schools Trust went on strike last year over changes to their pensions, causing embarassment and disruption.