I reported previously that Parents of children affected by the Teaching Assistant / Support Staff strike are becoming more vocal and active. A number I have spoken to have phoned and emailed Cllr Banwait to express their concerns, and to request him to resolve this dispute, quickly, for the sake of their children.
In this extract from this standard email being sent to Parents, Cllr Banwait suggests that the demands from Unison are neither affordable, nor legal. This is a bold statement and based on the evidence below, extremely misleading.
The strike has been caused following demands by Unison for solutions which are simply not affordable or legal. As per the Local Government Act, as elected members we can only make decisions based on recommendations from professional officers that can evidence that those options are both legal and financially viable.
UNISON have suggested 3 priorities which Banwait claims are illegal, despite all of these being proposed by other authorities.
First Priority – 37 hour contracts during term time on a permanent basis just like our non-school colleagues
Derbyshire County Councils package proposes:
Also Durham County Council, offer:
Second Priority – 36 months Pay Protection to give us time to adjust our spending accordingly if we are forced to reduce our income
From the HR Magazine, dated Oct 21 2009. Pay protection is seen as good practice, and covered by case law.
As per Flintshire Council package:
As per Nottingham City Council package:
Third Priority – A lump sum Compensation and Phasing in package
As per Durham County Council package:
Additional to this, Cllr Banwait tells the TAs/Support Staff and Parents that his hands are tied, and that everything is instructed by Central Government.
In a House of Commons Debate (March 16th 2011) on the Teaching Assistants Pay Dispute in Cumbria, Bob Neill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said in his speech. (My emphasis)
As I will explain, and as the hon. Gentleman and other Members will know, the Government’s role in decisions on pay and conditions and on work force issues is limited, but I will set it out. This debate has, none the less, given them an opportunity to vent the views of their constituents, and, as someone who has served as a member of a local authority and as a school governor, including at a special school, where particular demands were placed on the staff, I recognise and completely understand the issues to which they referred.
These decisions are essentially for the county council, as they are for any other local education authority, so it is probably appropriate that I set out factually the legal position that gives rise to the situation in relation to equal pay and single status on the one hand, and to the terms and conditions of the employment of teaching assistants on the other, because obviously in the case before us the two are interlinked.
Historically, the terms and conditions on which teaching assistants and many other local government staff are employed are decided not by central Government but by local authorities. In principle, that is right and proper, because they are generally best placed to do so.
Cllr Banwait should stop passing the buck, and start taking accountability on this.
The Equal Pay review ( at its basic level) is about ensuring that people of different genders, doing similar work, are paid the same. It does not imply wholesale pay increases. As the Teaching Assistants/Support Staff are not demanding a pay increase, just not a pay reduction – how can this not be affordable. Has the Council over-compensated and increased the pay of other staff too much.
The 2016/17 Derby City Council budget, includes £3.3m for permanent costs of implementing Job Evaluation
Plus further increases in subsequent years. This was confirmed in a Freedom of Information request to be pay increases of approx £4m, and pay reductions of £1m. It is clear that the so-called “affordability” issue is driven by an average 4% pay increase for all non-Teaching Assistant / Support Staff throughout the Council. It is not fundamentally unaffordable – it is a flawed implementation.
Cllr Banwait is lying when he says that the pay structure is defined centrally, he’s lying when he says it is not affordable, when clearly it is affordable, and he’s lying when he says the UNISON proposals are illegal.
Why is the Leader of the Council being so misleading with the 250,000 people who he serves and is supposed to be representing? What is his agenda?
Perhaps he would like to substantiate his claims, in the context of the above evidence?