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Backing for civil servants over pay row

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THE head of a teaching union has come out in full support of next month’s civil servants’ strike but urged the government to resolve the matter before more school closures were caused.

.Marina Mauger

Marina Mauger, of the NASUWT, said she was concerned that if the long-running pay dispute with the States Employment Board was not resolved over the summer further industrial action would see schools forced to close after pupils return in the autumn.

JCSA Prospect and Unite called for civil servants to go on strike on 23 and 27 August – the two days either side of this year’s summer bank holiday weekend, after the latest pay deal offered by the States Employment Board was rejected by their members.

The offer was a 1% pay rise for 2018 and 2019, 2.1% in one-off cash payments over the two years and a 1.3% above-inflation pay award for 2020. Civil servants are unhappy with receiving below-inflation pay rises, as well as worse deals than other public sector workers.

Recent civil service strikes have forced the closure of a number of Island schools because staff such as teaching assistants and administrators are classified within the employee group.

And Mrs Mauger said that if the ongoing dispute was not resolved over the summer, this could happen again.

‘It won’t be a problem during August while the pupils are away, but during term time if civil servants go on strike they won’t be able to open some schools,’ she said.

‘I really don’t want to see the schools close again, so I hope that a solution can be found to this that will satisfy both sides.

‘I understand that States officials are working very hard on this, so hopefully this will be resolved by next month’.

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She added that she ‘fully supported’ JCSA Prospect’s decision to go on strike and the unions in Jersey all support each other.

Both of Jersey’s major teaching unions – NASUWT and the NEU – reached agreement with the SEB on their pay deals earlier this year after they undertook independent programmes of industrial action.

They were eventually offered 2% pay rises for 2018 and 19, as well as an inflation plus 2.1% rise for 2020.

NASUWT members initially rejected this deal due to concerns over a review of the ‘supplementary allowances’ paid to teachers for doing work over and above their standard contracted hours.

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The matter was resolved and Mrs Mauger said that this had been the ‘key item’ that her union had pushed for during negotiations rather than the actual pay deal.

‘The pay was nice but this was what we were really concerned about,’ she said.

‘People do not realise how much additional work teachers do – they think they all work from 9am to 3pm and have lots of holidays.

‘But they have marking and admin to do and planning work to do during the holidays. Primary school teachers these days are working 70-hour weeks.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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