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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Teaching assistants balloted on strike action

COPELAND schools could be disrupted as teaching assistants are to be balloted this month on strike action.

The furious assistants face pay cuts of up to a third from this September as part of the single-status pay review.

They are to be balloted at the end of April which may result in strike action in June.

A Whitehaven teaching assistant said: “No one wants to strike but we are so upset at our treatment. Our jobs and roles are being undermined.’’

The assistants also claim this week that they have been “sabotaged’’ after the two weeks they were given to organise a second stage appeal co-incides with the Easter holidays.

“We have been asked to produce evidence of our job roles, which needs to be counter-signed by our line-managers,’’ the teaching assistant explained.

“However, this information was posted on April 8 when the schools were closed. This was the first we were aware our first stage appeal had failed,’’ she said.

“It will be difficult, if not impossible, to sort out this second stage appeal as some of our evidence has to remain at the school for confidential reasons and our teachers and head teachers, who are our line-managers, are away on holidays.

“We feel this is a deliberate attempt to sabotage our appeal process.’’

The teaching assistants say they are also furious over the way their jobs have been graded as part of the single- status process by Cumbria County Council.

“In the matrix document which outlines what we are deemed to be worth, a senior teaching assistant, has been given one point (the lowest) for the ‘mental demands score’ and two points for the ‘relationships’ score.

“We are qualified professionals who work with children, some with special needs, and this is how much they value our role caring for pupils.’’

Those with 10 in the ‘relationships’ category are a highways network manager and a senior area engineer.

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said: “Stage two appeal forms must be returned within two weeks of notification of the outcome of stage one in order that we can stay on track with our implementation timetable of completing all appeals by the end of May.

“It was announced prior to the Easter holiday that stage two appeals for school-based staff will be heard after staff return. It was also announced before the end of term that if staff are unable to access their stage one appeal result or don’t have the ability to register the second stage appeal during the holidays then these can be done on their immediate return. Details on the whole appeals process has been circulated well in advance to all schools and lodging the next stage of appeals is a relatively simple process that does not need to be done in the school.

“For ‘Emotional Demands’ this is referring to additional emotional demands over and above what is already accounted for in the job profile. “Level one was given for a teaching assistant because that level relates to emotional situations that occur in everyday life.

“Schools by their very nature should not be a distressing experience for those involved. Teaching assistants working with children with special educational needs were graded at level two, reflecting the greater emotional demands of that post.

“For the job allocation process, the term ‘relationship’ refers to the level of management and managerial influence that the post holder has.

“There are four levels of teaching assistants in Cumbria – the lowest level, a standard teaching assistant, does not manage other staff so level 1 out of 7 is the appropriate score.

“Senior teaching assistants are level 2, higher level teaching assistants are level three and principal teaching assistants are level 5.

“These levels can also vary when Special Educational Needs are factored in - so a Principal TA with SEN responsibilities is actually graded at level five.’’

Have your say

It's not about terms and conditions. It's about Cumbria County Council failing to do the job evaluations correctly. Teaching Assistants have been undervalued in the process as have many other types of workers. They are the biggest group but the problem is far reaching.

The job families approach is too generic and does not apply to schools. The people completing the original job evaluations did not have the correct training. Communications has been non-existent, the appeals procedure is an absolute farce and an insult.

I am also a tax payer in Cumbria as are many of my colleagues. I might point out that some of the Cumbria County Council Officers are not! I am dismayed at the disproportionate amount of money that Cumbria are throwing at this in order to cover their tracks. I would rather that they used this money to fix potholes but no they have done things like hold appeals meetings in hotels.

So yes fair is what should be expected. If anyone from the private sector reckons that we are belly aching then yes it should be far for you also.

Otherwise our children would still be working up chimneys, we would work six days a week and die in our 50s. So unless you want to return to the days when employers can exploit employees lets stick together. It is after all our money and our votes on the 5th May.

Posted by Unfair on 29 April 2011 at 09:01

Call this journalism. Why can't CCC name their spokesperson and the journalist needs to actually look at the statements in more detail. Do you know why they want to keep to their timetable?

They are going to use a piece of legislation that was designed to protect people being made redundant to bully them into accepting new contracts. No one would mind accepting new contracts if they were fair but the whole system has been flawed from start to finish. But still they march blindly on. Disregarding Members of Parliament, councillors, employees and the public.

Shame on you CCC and come on Whitehaven News dig deeper.

Posted by Nit Picker2 on 29 April 2011 at 08:45

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