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Re: NJC Pay Award 2018/19

UNISON and GMB Unions have held meetings all five Plym MAT schools following consultative ballots on a pay offer that breaks away from national pay bargaining to offer an inferior deal to low paid school support staff. These ballots showed a very clear mood of anger and disappointment by staff who decisively rejected the offer in a well supported ballot (GMB – 92% rejection, UNISON – 100% rejection) and the meetings reflected this mood also.

Pleas of poverty from PLYM MAT are understandable given the years of underfunding from national government but nearly all other schools across the country have managed and PLYM accounts state:

• An excess income of £490,715 in 2018
• Total funds were up on 2017 – £15.4m to £16.2m
• Cash in the bank went from £1.5m to £1.6m year on year
• In 2017, there were 2 members of staff paid in the band £60-70k, in 2018 this increased to 4
• In 2017 the CEO was paid £80-85k, 2018 this increased to £85-90k
• There was a £10-15k contribution to CEO pension
• £15k was contributed per school to cover the teachers’ pension deficit

All of the above facts are taken directly from the publically available accounts of the Trust.

UNISON and GMB cannot accept savings made at the expense of the lowest paid staff and support staff were dismayed to think they will become the lowest paid in Plymouth. We would call on the Trust to reconsider its position to avoid industrial action.

The national pay award is far from excessive at 2% for 2018 and 2019, although some low paid staff do get a little more.

key principles behind the two-year NJC pay award are:

• to help employers comply with the anticipated increases in the legal national living wage figure by 2020 – hence the need the for higher percentage increases on the bottom points of the pay spine
• to help restore grade differentials that have been compressed as a result of the increases in the national living wage previously, to avoid potential equal pay risks for employers

The overwhelming majority of schools locally and nationally are implementing the pay award and so the decision is leading staff to questioning whether the Trust values its support staff, and feeling misled over the original TUPE process from the local authority.

Unions have given Trust bosses seven days to respond or we will have no option but to ballot members further in accordance with legislation for industrial action that could include strike action.

Plymouth in UNISON Branch Secretary Kevin Treweeks said “I can’t believe schools in Plymouth want to start a race to the bottom with their wage policy. Most of the staff affected are women, many of whom have children of school age. What kind of message does this give to girls about their future worth in the workplace”

GMB Official Matt Roberts said, “it is not too late, and we would urge the trust to reconsider its decision so that it can focus on delivering the best education to children and young people, rather than an unnecessary dispute.”

Teaching staff receiving their full award and have also expressed sympathy for their colleagues.