UNION

Plympton school support staff dispute talks break-up

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17 Jul 2019
Press Office

Press Office

Unions representing Plympton teaching assistants, meal-time assistants, caretakers, receptionists, cleaners and school business managers have expressed their disappointment, after talks with pay dispute-hit Plym Academy Trust and Acas have ended without agreement.


GMB, the Union for school support staff and UNISON are in a formal trade dispute with Plym Academy Trust, after bosses decided to break away from the national pay award for school support staff and offer alternative local pay rates, which were rejected by 92% of union members.

There is a lot of anger amongst the staff that they are currently being paid less than the going rate for their jobs across the city and the country. There are even support staff in other parts of Plympton being paid the correct rates whilst these staff are not.

Matt Robots, GMB

Staff are picketing today (17th July) outside Woodford primary school after a one day strike took place last Tuesday - 9th July – which included picket lines outside the Woodford, Boringdon and Chaddlewood schools.

Unions have estimated that the additional cost of their latest proposal to the Trust - effectively the price of ending the dispute - is only just over £10,000. This pales in comparison to the pay of the top five earners at the Trust who receive between £325,000 to £370,000 plus pension contributions.

Matt Roberts, GMB Union Regional Organiser said:

"Following earlier talks with Acas, the Trust offered to pay the national pay rates from April 2020, and increased their pay offer for this September by half a percent. They also agreed to raise the minimum wage within the Trust.

“We held a mass meeting and put this to the vote but whilst our members recognise this was an improved offer, it fell short of being accepted by a majority of staff. There is a lot of anger amongst the staff that they are currently being paid less than the going rate for their jobs across the city and the country. There are even support staff in other parts of Plympton being paid the correct rates whilst these staff are not."

"GMB and UNISON have tried since the outcome of the latest vote to find a responsible end to the dispute. We made a proposal with Acas which was a considerable compromise, that we would have recommended our members accept, but this was rejected. Our proposal was to pay staff the correct pay rates from their Christmas pay packet onwards. We believe that this, added to the Trust's earlier improved offer, would have been enough to get through a vote of our members, and therefore end the dispute so we can all get back to normality.”

 

Sarah Woodward, UNISON Regional Organiser said:

"It's hugely disappointing that the Trust have ended discussions and rejected the latest compromise to be proposed by the unions - added on top of the significant compromises we had already made.

“It cannot be said that the staff and unions are not trying to resolve the dispute. Senior Management and Teachers have all received their national recommended pay increases, but support staff are the only group who have not.

“Our members are the lowest paid staff in the Trust who keep the schools running day in day out with a good measure of goodwill added in. We think it's the least management can do to pay them the correct national pay rates for each of their jobs."

"Our members were encouraged to see the high levels of support from parents and carers on the strike day last week, and the march we held at the Ridgeway shopping centre. Unfortunately it seems the dispute will now have to continue after the summer holidays and into the new academic year, which is completely avoidable."

 
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