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Support staff

The NEU represents support staff members across the UK in the maintained, academy, free school, independent, further education, sixth form and university sectors.

Backdated pay award for support staff and impact on Universal Credit

Following several enquiries received concerning the impact of the backdated pay award for support staff members in receipt of Universal Credit, the NEU has produced model template letters to request that employers stagger any back-pay due. This is to minimise the risk of any future reductions in Universal Credit payments for members, which can be affected by one-off backdated payments.

We have produced a letter template for individual members, and separate template for reps and/or branches to make collective requests if necessary.

Any arrangement of staggered pay should only be initiated at the request of the employee(s).

The Union is not recommending a specific time period for staggered pay, however a period of three months may be suitable in most cases depending on individual circumstances.

Membership of the NEU is open to any person working in the education sector: teachers, teaching assistants, examination officers, technicians, librarians, lecturers, managers, administrators and ancillary staff.


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Pay scales for support staff

Pay scales for support staff. Most support staff are employed on the local government pay scales determined by the NJC for local government services.

TUC dispute and annual conference

Last November, the NEU began ballots of both our teacher and support staff members for action over pay and, crucially, over the funding of pay rises in schools.

Three unions – Unison, GMB and Unite – made a complaint to the TUC alleging that our ballot was an organising activity intended to recruit support staff to our union.

We maintained that the purpose of the ballot instead was to ensure that we were putting as much pressure as possible on the Government to put money into schools. We saw this funding as crucial to ensure that redundancies and cuts in hours are avoided and that it could allow pay levels to be better.

However, the TUC disputes panel found against us and as part of the judgement they require that we place this paragraph on our website.

“NJC unions, Unison, GMB and Unite, brought a complaint to the TUC under the TUC’s Disputes Principles and Procedures, relating the NEU’s decision to ballot school support staff and related campaigning activities. Complaints that NEU were in breach of Principle 2, relating to knowingly and actively taking into membership existing or recent members of another union and Principle 3, relating to actions that would have the effect of undermining the position of an established union, were upheld by a Disputes Committee. 

The NEU is not recognised for collective bargaining on behalf of support staff and is not seeking and will not seek recognition to collectively bargain on behalf of support staff. NEU will not undertake any campaign or organising activity on behalf of support staff that could be construed as infringing on the established collective bargaining arrangements that exist without the express agreement of NJC unions, respecting the spheres of influence of those unions.”

This paragraph is in contradiction with a motion passed at our conference this year, which lists these action points:

Conference instructs the Executive to:

  1. Seek, at the earliest opportunity, recognition and negotiating rights for our support staff members.
  2. Liaise with the local government unions representing support staff to make clear our desire to work with them, to strengthen union density and effectiveness among support staff.
  3. Report back to the Support Staff National Council on any developments in respect of negotiations with our sister unions regarding recognition and negotiating rights and recruitment.
  4. End the undertaking not to actively or knowingly recruit support staff.

Because of this difference, the NEU will be seeking meetings with Unison Unite and GMB to explore how we can resolve the contradiction between these positions.

Support staff pay

Unison Unite and GMB are all balloting their school support staff members alongside their council staff members in disputes about this year's National Joint Council (NJC) pay offer. NEU has written to those unions expressing solidarity with their campaign and stating that we want to talk with them about balloting our support staff members to make that solidarity very practical.

We have also said that we want to explore how we can fulfil another part of the TUC judgement – that a mechanism with the other unions should be set up so that the views of NEU support staff members are taking into account in NJC negotiations.

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