Claire Dent – Negotiations officer for London and the South East
Chris Manning – Negotiations executive for the Midlands and South
Stuart Anderson – Negotiations Executive for Scotland, North and North west
Daniel Maney – Negotiations Officer for Wales
Angela Moffatt – Negotiations Officer for Northern Ireland
All areas of education continue to be affected by the current Covid 19 crisis.
With schools re-opening Prospect has been monitoring the safety of our members as they return to their normal way of working.
Across all of the Local Authorities I cover, I have been encouraging engagement in putting in place Risk Assessments, both in sites and individually to ensure staff and service users return safely.
Bexley in particular have been very good at consulting with all the education unions concerning Risk Assessments.
I have been made aware of problems in Richmond where a traded service (Achieving for Children) has asked their School Improvement staff to return to school visits without robust and clear risk assessment guidance. The joint education unions affected have challenged this collectively and hopefully this is now resolved.
I have had limited feedback from members within Education and Children Services during this period and it continues to be a quiet period both collectively and for personal cases.
Hertfordshire Music Service
This service is estimating a deficit of around £2 million and because of the huge drop in income they have had to take hard decisions. They had furloughed a third of their staff on 80% salary and also reduced agreed working hours by 20% with effect from the start of the autumn term. This furlough arrangement has now been extended throughout November in line with Government announcements.
As the service moves towards spring term and January 2021, lesson delivery continues to see steady growth, though regretfully the service is not yet nearing pre-COVID service delivery levels.
The Executive Leadership team have therefore agreed with Central HCC stakeholders that for the first half of the spring term 2021, the music service will offer variable hours colleagues an additional period of salary protection at 60% of pre-COVID hours (based on March 2020 pay).
Obviously this is not something Prospect would be agreeing to but no members had raised concerns about this and given the alternative would be large scale redundancies, in this economic climate it seems inevitable.
Herts for Learning
The joint Education unions agreed a 1.6% pay deal. This was well below the 3% we submitted and below inflation but it was the best deal we could achieve by negotiation and members were happy to accept it.
As part of the negotiation we did ask for recognition to be applied to all staff, not just those on legacy terms that were TUPE’d over from the LA. However, this was once again rejected and unfortunately we don’t have sufficient membership density to drive this forward.
It was agreed however that they would move the pay negotiation date forward next year so future Cost of Living Allowance recommendations will apply from 1 April; this would align financial and performance years and the pay cycle; staff would therefore benefit from an earlier pay award in 2021.
I have only one current personal case within ECS with a nursery worker who was not paid the correct overtime and holiday pay when she resigned her employment.
An Employment Tribunal claim was lodged but prior to the hearing the employer agreed to sign a binding agreement and these monies were paid at the end of October.
This demonstrates Prospect’s commitment to support all our members, whatever their role and tackle unfair treatment whoever the employer is.
The work Prospect has been carrying out during this period to ensure all our members are treated fairly and they can work safely demonstrates the importance of union membership. I hope as we move to more normal times all members will recruit their colleagues, explaining the benefits they enjoy and highlighting how vital union membership is.
The amount of Prospect involvement across the ECS Group in the South and South West regions continues to be fairly low; a situation exacerbated by the current Covid-19 crisis.
However I continue to support ECS Group members with individual and collective cases involving various workplace issues.
The restructure consultation in Plymouth City Council’s Education, Participation and Skills (EPS) Department has now concluded. Subject to final confirmation over a job-share proposal it looks like all of the affected Prospect members will receive an outcome that they are happy with.
The other restructure that I am involved with (the SEN Service within Hampshire County Council) is also coming to a conclusion but, although the affected members have reached broadly satisfactory outcomes, the process has fallen foul of a couple of pieces of legislation.
Members facing a redundancy situation need to be aware of The Redundancy Payments (Continuity of Employment in Local Government, etc.) (Modification) Order 1999, which places restrictions on the type of employers you can seek immediate employment with; and the newly introduced cap on public sector redundancy packages can make a big difference to any payments you may have been expecting.
If you need any guidance on redundancy matters, or any other type of advice or support, please email [email protected] with your enquiry.
In October a long running issue regarding Soulbury grading was concluded. The individual outcome was satisfactory with the member being regraded, however the council's HR policies for Soulbury staff were shown to be poor. The employer has undertaken a draft a policy on Soulbury grading appeals and I will participate in this process.
A number of members have been in contact to discuss risk assessments for visits to schools and settings. I have been advising them and so far they have all been dealt with locally, once our member had further discussions with line management.
Self-employed consultants have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and a number have contacted Prospect regarding support. I have provided advice and sign posting to Prospect resources on government support for the self-employed and spoken about Prospect’s lobbying efforts in this area. However, due to government policy, self-employed members remain in a difficult position.
Our member’s importance in supporting school and childcare settings has cause an increased workload and a number of members have expressed to me that this is not sustainable in the long term. As the pandemic will likely extend for some time, I believe that members will require support in bringing workload to a manageable level.
Case work is few and far between right now but general policy has been more busy.
Wales is in National lockdown for 17 days, which is due to end on the 9 November. The first week was half term but schools have gone back this week as planned. We are due to get more detail on what provisions will apply after lockdown.
Kirsty Williams announced that she will not be standing at the next Senedd Election due in May 2021. She is currently the Education Minister in the Senedd, and a member of the liberal Democrats (the only LD currently in the Senedd) So her successor will not be determined until the election has taken place.
There is currently a Welsh Government review of the professional leadership in schools standards (which were introduced in September 2019) in Wales. I am feeding into this process and I have been on touch with our reps and got feedback on this and will report back after it has happened.
Your Education Authority Northern Ireland workplace representative is:
- Glenn Walsh
Member cases: group & individual issues
We continue to be kept busy with individual and small group issues for EA members on an ongoing basis. If you need help or advice, please get in touch by emailing: [email protected].