Nursery Nurses Industrial Action
What's it all about?
Nurses are the largest single group of qualified Child Care professionals delivering
the highest quality early years education and childcare within Nursery schools,
classes, day nurseries and all early years' establishments.
assess, evaluate, observe, record and monitor every aspect of each individual
child's learning, ensuring that they access a broad, varied, stimulating, thought
provoking, and fun pre-five curriculum. This is demanded by documents and policies
such as local Starting Points, Scottish National Curriculum guidelines and National
For this role their salary does not reflect their skills
a) the job of a nursery nurse has not been
reviwed for nearly 15 years (since 1998)
b) an average nursery nurse earns
around £13,000 a year (from around £10,000 to £13,800)
c) the job of a
nursery nurse has gained significant increased responsibilities since 1998 (see
UNISON's Scottish Local Government Service Group established
a Nursery Nurses Working Group to look at the Pay and Grading of nursery nurses
in Scotland in 1999. The Working Group spent considerable time in extensive consultation
with branches and nursery nurses employed in Education and Social Work in Scottish
Claim and Counter
They produced a Pay and Grading
Claim in September 2001 and formally lodged with the Employers at the Scottish
Joint Council Annual Meeting in October 2001. The Employers rejected the Pay and
Grading Claim as not competent under the terms of the Single Status Agreement
in Scotland (The Red Book).
They told us it would need to be discussed
at local (individual Council) level during the 'job-evaluation' exercise The Trade
Union Side noted the Employers' response, discussed it and agreed to lodge an
identical claim individually with the 32 councils in Scotland in early 2002. UNISON
branches did so in the week beginning February 4th 2002.
Over the course
of the next 8 months, discussions took place between the Joint Secretaries of
the Scottish Joint Council and individual councils and UNISON branches, as to
how these individual claims might be dealt with. This resulted in an agreement
in October 2002 that the Scottish Joint Council would set up a Joint Nursery Nurses
Working Group to look in detail at the Trade Union Side Claim.
Group first met in October 2002 and again in December of that year. At both these
meetings the Employers indicated that they were collating information and views
from the constituent authorities on the claim but were not yet in a position to
respond, this a year after the Claim was lodged with the Council.
2003, the Working Group met and the Employers produced their initial response
which in no way addressed the claim and in fact threatened nursery nurses with
term-time status. After this meeting UNISON members began the process which culminated
in the industrial action ballot.
The UNISON ballot process was interrupted
by a legal challenge from a Scottish local authority, perhaps indicating the level
of anxiety the Employers had about the dispute. In this context it should also
be noted that a number of branches have had approaches from their councils seeking
to discuss the claim and to reach agreement locally.
When the UNISON ballot
process began this was reported to the Employers. The Employers' Secretary offered
a meeting at extremely short notice on 25 April 2003 at which UNISON and TGWU
were in attendance. The Employers presented a set of proposals around guidelines
for a job description to be recommended to local authorities. These were rejected
by both UNISON and the Joint Trade Union side as they did not address the main
issue of a Scottish regrading, and were too little, too late.
took place between 25 Apr and 9 May. 4,500 papers were issued and a 64% return
was received. Two questions were asked in the ballot, asking nursery nurses if
they were prepared to take a) strike action and/or b) action short of a strike.
The result was a 87% vote in favour of strike action and a 92% vote in favour
of action short of a strike. Both actions started on 20 May.
be rallies across Scotland organised by local branches. Further action will affect
different areas at different times and will be notified later.
The council's affected by the first wave of strikes are: Tuesday
20 May and Wednesday 21 May - East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Inverclyde,
Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East and
West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, Shetland and Orkney.
they will be joined by colleagues in Edinburgh, East-, Mid- and West Lothian,
Borders, Fife, Stirling, Falkirk, Perth & Kinross and Dundee. These branches will
also be on strike on Thursday 22 May.
Branches also striking on Wednesday
21 May alone will be Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Highland,
South Lanarkshire, Moray and the Western Isles. The extra duties that will be
boycotted include observation, recording assessment and evaluation processes,
planning and development tasks, student training, all work outwith normal working
hours, and all clerical, janitorial and cleaning tasks.
The Officers of
the Local Government Committee and the UNISON Side remain available to discuss
with the Employers a way forward but to date there has been no approach from the
Employer in the face of the industrial action.
Support the Nursery Nurses!
Nursery Nurses, are a hard working, dedicated, conscientious, committed
group of professionals involved in the education of children aged 0-5 years, who
are entrusted to them by their parents/carers. They are not directed by teachers
but work in partnership with them, as well as parents, support for learning assistants
and visiting support specialists such as Special Educational Needs Nursery Nurses,
Teachers, Speech therapists, Physiotherapists etc.
All have a role in creating
an interesting, caring supportive environment where children can, at their own
pace, develop and learn using a wide and varied range of skills and strategies.
This gives them the best possible start in their education and engages them in
life long learning.
UNISON's Scottish Nursery Nurse Working Party submitted
a fair and equitable pay and regrading claim in September 2001. Nationally, Employers
have continually refused to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Nursery
Nurses. This is totally unacceptable and is the reason Scottish Nursery Nurses
The high majority YES vote is an indication of the strength
of feeling. Nursery nurses are dedicated professionals, passionate about their
careers, but fully intend to pursue their regrading claim until they gain recognition
for their professional status and secure a fair salary.
The demands and
stresses that are part of nursery life are compensated for by the achievements,
however big or small, of all children, culminating in the day they leave nursery
to embark on their school life, confident, inquisitive, interested, eager young
Please support the nursery nurses' claim.
Joe Di Paola, Scottish Organiser - Local Government on 0845 355 0845, or e-mail
on email@example.com For ways in which you can help UNISON's campaign.