UNISON Northern Ireland

UNISON school support service workers lobby the Northern Ireland Local Government Association to support their pay claim

Noeleen Beattie organiser in the Education spoke to the October meeting of NILGA on the pay claim served by all unions operating in the NJC pay system across the UK

In Northern Ireland support service workers are covered by NJC agreement. NILGA is a member of the employers UK negotiating body on pay terms and conditions.

Noeleen emphasised the following aspects of the pay claim:

The compression of spinal points 11 – 25.

Cost of Living increase – many members are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Grocery prices are increasing whilst pay is not.

1% pay cap – 2019 average NJC wage will have declined in value by a further £1,100 however when many members earn between £8,000 and £14,000 this is a significant amount of their disposable income.

National Minimum Wage and NJC comparison – many members are being paid just above the NMW. It is a myth that public sector pay is a decent pay. UNISON highlighted the change in 2014 and how many members are being paid under £8 per hour.

But it’s not just about pay.

Job losses – UNISON stated whilst the VES is in place, the Education Authority is also slashing hours.  We gave examples of members’ hours being cut and variation of contracts being imposed with members losing £160 a month on a already low paid job and the impact that is having.

Work pressure and stress – UNISON also gave examples of how school principals are asking classroom assistants to ‘step up and step in’ when teachers are off or on courses (due to lack of budget for teaching cover). These members are loyal to their schools however they are not teachers and this highlighted the importance of mental health and the pressures when teachers are absent and the work is still there to be done.

Recruitment and retention problems – We also gave an example that catering managers are finding it increasingly difficult to get staff to cover absences - at £8 per hour and staff have to pay for Access NI as well it is not surprising.

UNISON concluded by asking the NI representatives to the employer’s side to vote in favour of the pay claim.