We Learning Support Assistants have finally won our Pay & Grading Appeal to lift us out of Pay Band B1 and into a C1 and will receive back pay from 2007 after months of campaigning in the workplace and investigation.
Vine is a small Leeds City Council service that provides specialist education and social care to young adults with learning difficulties. The majority of Unison members are well trained Learning Support Assistant providing the support, attention and care that our learners need.
Because we are all part-time and term-time only, our members are poorly paid so when our ‘Special Needs Allowance’ was not factored into the new re-evaluation of the job as a result of the Single Status Accord back in 2007, naturally our members were furious. We did however get three-years pay protection so we did not feel the cut until February 2011. Supported by the Management an Appeal was lodged in December 2010 and was heard in January 2011 and it has taken 19 months to finally get the outcome we deserve!
The cuts have impacted deeply within our service in recent years. As the service has had to contract in line with budget restraint many of our ageing staff left. Unable to take more staff on, those remaining have had to work harder to cope with maintaining the service. Staff have had to cope with relocating, some more than others but although we have all moved to one location now which is a huge improvement on our previous workplaces, we still have the same issues of high levels of sickness absences and staff shortages.
For as long as I’ve been a steward the Pay & Grading issue has always been the focal point for our members to be active on. At a certain stage it looked like we were to be forgotten about but with determination and after having several workplace campaign meetings, raising the issue within the branch and at the Joint Consultation meetings and encouraging our members to investigate and take grievances and so on, it took everything short of strike action to win.
However campaigning doesn’t stop there, at our last workplace campaign meeting I encouraged my members to reject the latest Council offer that will make it easier to make staff redundant through the Managing Workforce Change policy and make us pay for cuts through unpaid holidays. Also my members will be rejecting the Governments’ Local Government pension offer because none of us will be able to retire at 68 with all the moving and handling we do.