Guernsey Press

Teachers to vote on strike action over pay

HUNDREDS of angry teachers are to be balloted over whether to take strike action, as a union claims they are paid less then their Jersey counterparts.

NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach (Picture by PA News)

The NASUWT union represents about 250 staff employed in schools across the Bailiwick.

A ballot on both strike action and action short of strike is due to open on Wednesday, and close on 1 March.

The National Education Union is also balloting on both options, and it is understood that unions met yesterday with the island's new industrial disputes officer Steve Naftel.

A NASUWT spokeswoman said there was a clear desire for action from its members.

‘Members are feeling extremely angry with the situation, both towards pay and workload,’ she said.

‘Teachers have been very patient, but that patience is exhausted, and the States must realise the seriousness of the situation.’

The union said that Guernsey teachers were getting less than staff in Jersey.

‘Teachers on the top of the pay scale in Jersey receive £57,754.30, while the equivalent teacher in Guernsey is currently being paid £50,362, although awards are pending on both islands.’

NEU local representative Paul Montague said its members had indicated that they wanted to be balloted on action.

‘Of course we hope the States, as an employer, takes seriously what is going on and gets back around the table to talk.’

Deputy Dave Mahoney is the Policy & Resources lead for employer matters.

‘I’m really disappointed the NASUWT seems determined to push for strike action, as there is a set process under Guernsey law for resolving pay disputes, which is through the industrial disputes officer, and that is where this dispute is currently,’ he said.

‘I’d really urge them to reconsider, and to give that process a chance. Employees in all areas of the organisation, and the unions that represent them, have accepted this offer already. Only in the case of nurses and other health workers, and teachers, has it so far been rejected.’

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said for the last year the union had been urging the States to return to the negotiating table.

‘However the States have been completely intransigent, and despite the NASUWT using every avenue available, have refused to enter into further discussions with us,’ he said.

‘Industrial action is always a last resort and teachers have been incredibly patient, giving the States nearly a year to return to the negotiating table. However, their patience has now been exhausted. This unprecedented step is deeply regrettable, but is entirely the fault of the States.’

The result of the NASUWT ballot should be available soon after it closes on 1 March, subject to the verification process.

Pay offer not put to union members accurately – P&R

UNIONS are failing to reflect accurately pay offers made to members, the Policy & Resources lead for employer matters has said.

Dave Mahoney said the States was making a fair offer to teachers, as it had to all public servants.

‘We’re concerned the teaching unions are not accurately reflecting the offer to their members,’ he said.

The offer, accepted by many public sector groups, is for a 5% increase in salaries for 2022, plus a sum of £500 which will be consolidated into pay scales and will therefore be permanent and pensionable, backdated to 1 January 2022. This is with a RPIX figure of 2.3%.

Then for this year there would be an uplift equal to RPIX as at 30 June 2022, which was 7%.

Then in 2024 there would be a rise equal to RPIX as at 30 June 2023, minus 1%.

In the event that RPIX falls below 1%, the employer would not seek to implement a pay cut and the award that year will be zero.

‘Overall this is an above-inflation pay offer and as the employer, we have been clear and transparent about that, from the outset,’ Deputy Mahoney said.

‘Our committee fully appreciates the incredibly hard work our teachers have put in over the past few years, and we’re very grateful for how they stepped up in difficult circumstances during the height of the pandemic, and the day-to-day work that they do for our community.

‘But we believe this is a very fair offer which recognises that contribution and balances it against the pressure on public finances.’

The NASUWT union said that the current pay offer represented a further real-terms pay cut for teachers in Guernsey, following years of pay erosion stretching back to 2008.

There is a nationwide shortage of secondary teachers, with fewer training into the profession.

Education, Sport & Culture has admitted there have been some challenges with recruitment, but NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach has claimed the problems are bigger than that.

‘The education service in Guernsey is in a recruitment and retention crisis, fuelled by low pay and spiralling workloads,’ he said.

‘An award that recognises the historic erosion in pay is required, along with tangible action to tackle ever-increasing workload demands. Without this, Guernsey will only find it ever more difficult to recruit and retain the teachers our children and young people need.’