School staff in UNISON at Leicester’s Ash Field Academy, including teaching assistants and administrative officers, are taking strike action after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer from their employer.
The industrial action will begin on 16 and 17 May, followed by three further days of strike action on the 23, 24, and 26 May.
School support workers are extremely underpaid for the work they do. To make things worse, support staff at Ash Field Academy have been paid less than those working in comparable Local Authority maintained schools over a period of many years, which is one of the reasons they are taking action now.
Education support workers are often described as low-skilled, but the truth is they are highly skilled but undervalued. As the Covid pandemic showed, these are ‘essential workers’ without whom society could not function.
Like the strikers’ Facebook page here!
MODEL MOTION: Support striking education support workers at Ash Field Academy for their 2022-2023 pay claim
This branch notes that:
- In July 2022, UNISON members at Ash Field Academy, a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school in Leicester, put in a pay claim with 3 components: a £3,000 pay rise for all support staff, the introduction of pay scales that would be similar to those used in Local Authority maintained SEND schools (Ash Field had neglected to employ these over a series of many years, leading to a large pay gap between Ash Field workers and those in LA-maintained settings), and the introduction of additional pay for the many medical interventions that staff undertake.
- The Academy responded with the same real terms pay cut that was made by the government during the 2022-2023 pay claim, i.e. £1,925. For the majority of (term-time) workers, this works out as significantly less. While the employer has agreed to finally fix the pay scales to close the gap with the LA maintained schools, they have only offered to implement these from April 2023 onwards even though the union’s pay claim was for the financial year 2022-2023.
- After a successful consultative ballot, members at the school returned a 90% vote for industrial action. Strike days are scheduled for Tuesday May 16 and Wednesday 17, then the following week, Tuesday May 23, Wednesday 24, and Friday 26.
This branch recognises that:
- This strike action represents a critically important dispute in the ongoing struggle for fair pay for underpaid education support workers. UNISON members at Ash Field Academy are trailblazing the way forward for academised support workers by launching a localised single employer industrial dispute over fair pay.
To that end, [insert branch name] agrees:
- To send a message of solidarity to Leicester City UNISON Branch: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To take the union banner to the picket line and encourage branch officers, reps and members to attend
- To send a message to the Chair of Governors at Ash Field Academy to encourage them to listen to the demands of their striking workforce: email@example.com
- To send a message to the Strategic Director for Social Care and Education at Leicester City Council, Martin Samuels, asking for the city council to demand that the academy settles: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To send a message of protest to the headteacher demanding the school settles the pay dispute: email@example.com
- To pursue any other solidarity action in support of the striking workers at Ash Field Academy, including publicising their case to our own members