York schools strike ballot in row over plans to cut pay of lowest paid staff
STAFF at York schools are being balloted today (February 2) on whether or not to strike.
York teaching assistants at South Bank Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) are being asked whether they want to go on strike after the trust confirmed last Autumn that 43 staff working at its six schools will be sacked unless they sign new contracts which would see them only being paid during term time.
Millthorpe School staff said they had been threatened with disciplinary action for raising awareness of a public meeting, which took place at the Priory Street Centre last year to discuss the MAT’s proposals.
Many were too fearful to give their names for fear of repercussions, with others already looking for new jobs instead of taking pay cuts of several thousand pounds.
Julie Forgan, a Unison rep at Knavesmire Primary School, where she is a teaching assistant in the nursery, said her pay would be cut by nearly 14 per cent.
She likened the plans to “P&O Ferries in a primary school” and said staff were prepared to strike to protect their terms and conditions.
A spokesperson for the trust, whose CEO is Mark Hassack, said: “The proposed changes we are consulting on would bring us in line with other schools, local authorities, academies and trusts nationally.
“Whilst we appreciate the depth of feeling within the community, this is not a public consultation and therefore any opinions from a public forum will not be considered as part of the process.”
This strike is separate to action by the National Education Union (NEU) yesterday who plan national and regional industrial action in England following a ballot of its teacher members across three further days in York, on Tuesday, February 28, Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16.