Seven unions warn of dispute with UK's largest academy chain

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03 Apr 2019
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The UK’s largest academy chain faces a potential dispute with seven education unions over job cuts, low wages and outsourcing.

GMB, Unison, Unite, ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT, and the NEU have now registered a failure to agree with London-based Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) which means the trust now has to halt all cuts and outsourcing to allow for last ditch talks at conciliation service ACAS

Unions have been forced into this step by AET’s refusal to engage in meaningful negotiation over a variety of issues.

AET needs to stop hiding its financial documents and come clean so we can have a proper discussion about the future of the trust

Sharon Wilde, GMB National Officer:

These include AET’s unwillingness to provide essential financial information on its plans for its schools, outsourcing of school services, holding down of teacher pay progression, failure to tackle workload and cuts to frontline school support staff.

Workload across the trust has increased to such an extent staff are becoming ill - despite repeated warnings, say the unions.

AET is also refusing to release details of the recent financial support  it received from the government, including the full conditions it signed up to in return for this money.  

Questions are now even being asked in Parliament about this funding deal and the lack of transparency around it.

Schools across the UK are affected – including those in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Middlesbrough, Barnsley, Gloucester and Milton Keynes

In 2017 AET cut dozens of jobs in a bid to slash £1.4 million from its schools’ estates budget –which unions say put children’s safety at risk. 

Sharon Wilde, GMB National Officer for Schools, said:

“Once again our hard working members are paying the price for AET’s mistakes. These cuts will put children’s lives at risk and we simply cannot allow that to happen.

“The trust is pursuing a policy of rampant outsourcing while creating a working environment so stressful it is literally making our members ill.

"AET needs to stop hiding its financial documents and come clean so we can have a proper discussion about the future of the trust.”

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