The Teaching Assistant (TA) / School Support staff strike action continued today with the Mackworth Ward being the target – it is home to Labour Cllrs Pegg, Whitby, and Froggatt.
The striking staff met at the Derby Homes Community Centre and, following a comprehensive briefing, split into groups and systematically spoke to as many households as possible on the estate. In the 90 minutes that they had, they received 244 signed letters of support – this is in addition to the those that were signed previously in the Boulton, Chaddesden and Derwent wards.
Although the TAs received an offer just prior to Christmas, it was designed be divisive – it really benefitted only a subset of the whole affected population, and still meant that many people who were subject to massive pay cuts had no route to a resolution. The Council delayed the closure of those negotiations well into the Christmas period trying to minimise the opportunity for strike action prior to the break.
Despite the wide publicity on this issue there are still people in the general population who have not been well-communicated to. To summarise:
- The strike is over pay cuts following the imposition of a new contract – these cuts are up to 25% for some of the lowest paid workers.
- It is nothing to do with the Equal Pay review – they are not asking for a change to the published grades.
- They were not being paid for their holidays – they were paid 12 times a year for the work that they were contracted to do during term time.
- This is nothing to do with Central Govt cuts – this was confirmed by the Council in their Head Teacher briefings. Many other jobs as part of the Equal Pay review were subject to pay increases. The Council has recently implemented their own version of a Living Wage that is ~£1/hr higher than the National Living Wage – this was a discretionary, political initiative, and will add £3m to the wage bill.
All they want, is to be paid the agreed hourly rate, for every hour that they actually work in doing the job that they have been employed to do. That is not an unreasonable request – other Council workers on less than £20k a year are paid that way. If the Council agree to this, then the dispute will be over immediately – it’s that simple!
Support from local Labour MP’s, ex-Labour MP’s, local Constituency Labour Parties, Labour Councillors or Labour activists/ Unions ( apart from UNISON) is conspicuously absent. The draconian cuts to some of the lowest paid workers in the community is hard-core Labour territory, and one would expect the groundswell of support similar to that witnessed when there was a hint of a problem with jobs at Bombardier. There is none whatsoever – there is a heavy whiff of compromised principles in the City.
A press release is expected, soon, from Momentum Derbyshire in support of this cause.
Categories: Teaching Assistant Dispute