A half-decent pay deal…

Finally, school support staff and other workers have been offered a half-decent pay deal, this now needs to be fully funded, warns Jon Richards national secretary for education at UNISON in SecEd.

After several years of austerity and minimal pay rises, two pay cap-breaking pay offers have come at once. A three year offer for NHS staff and a two year offer for those covered by the Local Government National Joint Council (NJC).

The latter is going to felt by schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as the NJC is the national pay system for schools – indeed, the NJC covers more than 1.5 million local government and school workers.

The deal will be complex so schools will need to consider it in detail. The very basics are a minimum pay increase of just over four per cent over the two years for support staff currently earning more than £20,000, with increasing amounts for lower paid staff – all wrapped up with a new national pay spine.

With most school support staff at the bottom end of the NJC scale, this could mean significant additional costs for school budgets. 

A couple of multi-academy trusts have muttered about not paying the award, but it is surely morally wrong that schools, which in recent years have happily implemented miniscule pay awards, go wobbly when they are asked to implement a half-decent pay deal (note inflation is still around three per cent).

Also, it is not as easy as just saying “that’s it we are ending national pay”. Staff have contractual rights, are covered by recognition agreements, TUPE and customs and practice. Employers would have to set up additional local bargaining arrangements, comply with minimum wage legislation and also not get tangled up with potential equal pay problems that could arise – which we would pursue if employers tried to get out of national pay. 

Read more A half-decent pay deal…

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