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SEND workers demand fair compensation amidst £10,000 pay disparity
Plus Stuart Dawkins, board of directors and transparency
In conversation with Tom Barker
We spoke with Tom Barker, the Unison rep for staff at Ash Field Academy in North Evington. SEND staff there are currently striking over pay.
Rhys Everquill: Why are staff at Ash Field Academy striking?
Tom Barker: "There are about 110 out of 160 Unison-represented education workers at Ash Field. Many of them are support staff because it is a SEND school. Staff in this particular setting have been underpaid over the last decade by our employer. We are employed by a single academy trust, so they don't have to follow the enhanced pay scale of council-run schools.
"We estimated SEND workers have lost about £10,000 in comparison to their counterparts at council-run schools.
"So that's one of the reasons that we have been in dispute. The other reason is that we have been presented with a real-term pay cut. So, while we have managed to negotiate some improvements, we've been very clear with the employer that we cannot afford to have our pay cut in the year 2022-2023 because we have been exposed to the cost of living crisis in a way that other workers have not because we have been underpaid for a very significant amount of time.
"Striking in this job is like the NHS with the same ethical dilemmas that people have. But it's an extremely low-paid job. And we're not getting paid properly, so people have been pushed over the precipice into real abject poverty".