Teaching Assistants, who are members of Unison, in Derby may be forced into a dispute with the council again following 75 days of industrial action in the last year.
The dispute, that saw up to 600 teaching assistants strike, seemed to result in a partial victory 4 months ago when the council unilaterally implemented a new contract that saved some from wage cuts but still led to wage losses of up to 25% for many.
The council agreed to review the grading of workers that had led to the wage reduction. Farcically the excuse for the pay reductions of the overwhelmingly women workforce was an equal pay review! For years the absence of a fair salary and appropriate grading for school support staff was hidden by the fact that many are on term-time only contracts.
Councils elsewhere had gone through pay reviews and overcome these problems for school support staff without these savage cuts in pay. Derby council, over the period of the summer months, could have played catch-up and met with Unison to resolve this issue.
Instead whilst union representatives had been ready to meet the council, there has been silence from the council and the deadline of 1 September for resolution has now passed.
In fact, union members have been alarmed by comments from some councillors to the effect that the council may continue to implement their inflexible interpretation of a 52 week contract, i.e. that workers either work in school downtime (even though there may be no work for them) or accept savage pay cuts.
Derby Unison members have been joining the Labour Party in some numbers over the last year. They intend to protest there in the lead up to selections of council candidates.
They are hoping that newly elected Derby North MP and former council leader Chris Williamson will speak up for them.