Anger over one per cent pay rise as support staff ballot for strike action


Tens of thousands of teaching assistants and school support staff are being balloted for strike action over a proposed pay rise of just one per cent.

The ballot, of staff working in academies, including teaching assistants, follows strike action by school support staff employed in mainstream schools, in July.

The action is being called by UNISON, which claims that 90 per cent of school support staff are being offered just one per cent. An additional sum is to be paid to the lowest paid workers, to prevent them falling below the National Minimum Wage.

Last week a number of teaching assistants told SecEd why they would be voting to strike. 

One higher level teaching assistant working in an academy in the North of England said: “I have been a teaching assistant for many years but I’ve noticed that more and more is expected of us, yet we receive no recognition for our contribution in the school.

“Since my school became an academy there is a marked worsening of conditions for teaching assistants – it is as if they expect us to work for next to nothing.”

Another teaching assistant, working in London, said: “I work with pupils with challenging behaviour, and while I get more and more responsibility piled on me, including lesson planning, I am not being given the recognition or pay to reflect this.

“It is, quite frankly, disgusting. I work with a lot of single mums and women, who are teaching assistants and are paid very little. Some are earning little more than the minimum wage. You cannot survive in London on this sort of salary.”

A Yorkshire-based teaching assistant said her friend earned more working nights in a supermarket.

“I rely on my partner to support me financially as I couldn’t survive on what I earn,” she said. 

UNISON members in most academies in England are subject to national bargaining arrangements. 

Dave Prentis, the union’s general secretary, said: “It is a scandal that this year’s pay offer represents just a few pennies an hour for most school support staff.  

“It might do enough to ensure that pay rates remain above the minimum wage, but it does nothing to ensure that school staff can meet the ever increasing prices of household bills and everyday essentials.

“We are urging the employers to get back to the table and negotiate a fair pay rise for our members.”

The ballot of 40,000 members will close on Wednesday (September 24) and a yes vote will lead to strike action.



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