The Council is once again urging union leaders to end the pay dispute which will see education across Derby disrupted.
UNISON has announced a further five consecutive days of strike action by school support staff after rejecting the Council’s offer to resolve the dispute.
The dispute follows an independent fair pay review commissioned by the Council in line with the requirements of the national Single Status Agreement reached in 1997 which applies to every Local Authority in the country. The aim of the Agreement, negotiated by the National Joint Council (NJC) is to re-organise pay and rewards in Local Government so that workers receive equal pay for work of equal value.
As a result of the review, the pay of the city’s school support staff who work fewer hours and fewer weeks than other Council staff, because of shorter school opening hours and longer holidays, had to change. To reflect this, salary has been applied on a case by case basis, directly linked to the actual number of hours worked by each person.
This is why some school support staff saw a reduction in their pay when the changes were implemented in June 2016, while others have had an increase.
Overall, 43% have had a pay increase, stayed the same or experienced a salary reduction of less than 5%.
Of the 40 members of staff experiencing a loss of more than 25%, eight have opted to reduce their hours and 14 have changed salary as a result of job evaluation, meaning they have partial protection of earnings for 12, 18 or 24 months (two have experienced both events).
To help offset the impact, schools have the option of increasing the number of hours and weeks staff are working. However, some schools cannot afford to do so and we can only pay people when there is work for them to do.
The Council has offered a £1.1m package to end the dispute. This includes a fund of £500,000 to enable schools to offer their staff more hours to increase their earnings. The remaining £600,000 would include a £2,000 buy-out figure for some and would provide training and other support for all.
The offer remains open. If accepted by UNISON, it could be used to help a significant number of employees.
The new rates of pay available to teaching assistants in Derby are comparable with those being advertised in neighbouring areas, including Nottingham, Staffordshire and Leicestershire, and therefore Derby is not a unique case and reflects the changes across the country.
However, UNISON wants all city school support staff to receive the full-time salary, even though they work fewer hours per week and fewer weeks per year than other staff evaluated at the same rate of pay.
Meeting the union demands would also open up the possibility of similar claims by other groups of Council staff, which could create an additional cost of up to £17m a year – enough to threaten the viability of the entire organisation.
Councillor Lisa Eldret, Cabinet Member for Job and Fair Employment, said:
“Nobody at the Council wants to see staff suffering personal hardship. We are willing to talk and would once again urge Unison to work with us to offset the losses being experienced by some individuals to end this disruption.
Our priority is to avoid any further disruption to the education of Derby children and inconvenience to their parents. There is an offer on the table to find a solution to this dispute. But we have to stress that there is no more money available on top of this.”
Information on how schools are affected during the industrial action is available on our school closures page.
Published: Friday 13th January 2017