Teaching Assistant Dispute

Teaching Assistant dispute resolution could be undermined by Council’s summer of silence

1st September 2017 was the committed date for the new School Support staff contracts to be in place – the Council has not been speaking to UNISON, nothing has been agreed!

The Derby City School Support Staff’s ( inc Teaching Assistants) long-running dispute was brought to an abrupt halt on 17 March 2017. This was following a vote of the UNISON membership to accept the Council’s much-improved offer.

In broad terms the Council agreed to right the wrong, that had been the subject of the contracts forced upon the School Support staff from 1 June 2016. This resulted in the pay reductions of up to 25% for the vast majority of the people involved. The details of the March 2017 agreement were contained within my article  “Teaching Assistant/School Support Staff dispute – what was finally agreed?”.

Whilst the agreement was high level, and the outcomes clear, it was accepted that there was more work to be done to make it capable of being implemented at a working level.

“The Council will work with Head Teachers and Governing Bodies to introduce a flexible hours contract for all Schools based Support Staff so that all commence a 52 week flexible contract commencing on 1st September 2017”

(Terms of Agreement between Derby City Council and UNISON 17 March 2017)

It was suggested that working groups would be established to agree the details to achieve the 1st September date.

Since the 1st July 2017 Derby City Council have not entertained any formal meetings with UNISON. Informal conversations have suggested that the Council are trying to question the most important aspect of the agreement which is the 52 week flexible contract.

As a reminder of the key points of the dispute:

  • It was NOT about Equal Pay between men and women – this was never the subject of the dispute
  • It was NOT about a pay increase
  • It was NOT about losing pay over the holiday period – they were never paid for being on holiday
  • It was about being paid for every hour worked by the staff to deliver the job that they were required to do. The contract that they are currently on ( imposed 1 June 2016) means that they do NOT get paid for every hour that they work – it assumes voluntary hours which no other Council employee is required to do.

COMMENT

If the Council continues to delay, then, inevitably the dispute will be resumed, which could lead to further strike action…and back to where we were in the early part of this year. And no one wants this!

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