UNISON to consult on industrial action over abolition of schools support staff pay body

UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector trade union, today said it would be consulting members on taking industrial action over the abolition of the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB).

The body, which was years in the making, was set up to develop consistency in pay, conditions and job roles for schools support staff including teaching assistants, special needs staff, nursery nurses, school secretaries, caretakers, technicians and schools meals staff.

Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Education, said:

“This is a bitter blow to the mainly women, overwhelmingly low paid, hard working and loyal support staff in schools. UNISON will be consulting our members on taking industrial action as a matter of urgency.

The coalition’s consultation process was a sham. It was obvious the government had made up its mind, right from the beginning, that schools support staff are not worthy of national pay and conditions.

We are calling for an immediate equality impact assessment, as it is likely this move will hit women hard. The government must also explain how it intends to deliver George Osborne’s headline grabbing, £250 boost for the lowest paid. It is a disgrace that they have so far refused to guarantee this pledge for schools support staff.”

Notes for editors:

1. The School Support Staff Negotiating Body was established under the ASCL ACT 2009 and is similar to the Pay Review Body for Teachers. The body has been developing a national pay framework of pay and conditions to cover around 500,000 school support staff in England. The employers on the body are the Local Government Employers, The Foundation and Aided Schools National Association (FASNA) , the Catholic Education Service and The Church of England.

2. UNISON is the main union for school support staff with more than 200,000 members, whose jobs include, teaching assistants, nursery staff, school secretaries, school business managers, school meals staff, technicians, librarians and special needs workers.

3. Around 70% of staff are only paid during term time and get no pay for school holidays, the average pay for a teaching assistant is under £10,000 per year.

4. More than three quarters of schools were closed when school staff took strike action over pensions in 2008.

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