Support staff FAQs

The preliminary ballot will close on 19 April. Cast your vote today to make a stand for your profession, your pupils and your schools.

What is the unions’ pay claim for 2024/25?

The three recognised local government unions (Unison, GMB and Unite) have submitted the following above-inflation claim, to be payable from April:

  • All employees to receive a wage rise of £3,000 or 10%, whichever is higher • All employers to agree a clear plan to reach a minimum pay rate of £15 an hour in a maximum of two years • An additional day of annual leave for all staff regardless of their current entitlement.

What has been the employers’ response to the claim?

The Local Government Employers are currently consulting in a series of roadshows. Its response is not expected until April at the earliest.

What is the NEU’s opinion?

The NEU executive fully supports the recognised unions’ claim, as it will go some way towards addressing the fact that average support staff pay has been cut by more than a quarter since 2010. We are keen to work alongside Unison, GMB and Unite, in a General Election year, to address the funding of pay, jobs and conditions of service – and have written to them to say just that.

The preliminary ballot will ask the following two consultation questions regarding the NJC unions’ pay claim and associated strike action:

  • Do you support the NJC unions’ 2024-25 above-inflation pay demand?
  • Would you vote “Yes” to strike action alongside NJC unions in support of their 2024-25 pay demand?

The preliminary ballot will ask you a further consultation question:

  • Would you vote “Yes” to strike action alongside NEU teacher colleagues for further school funding, that fully funds pay awards, fully protects support staff terms, conditions and job security and provides improved levels of staffing provision in schools, colleges and education services?

Support staff in Wales will be asked an extra question relating to the Welsh Government’s proposals to reform the school year:

  • Would you vote “Yes” to strike action if the Welsh Government imposes a reform of the school year by reducing the summer break to four weeks?

The NEU executive recommends that you vote “YES” to each question.

The preliminary electronic ballot will open on Saturday, 16 March. Emails and texts with unique voting links will be sent out at noon on that date.

The closing date will be included in those launch communications too.

You can check that we hold the correct email address and mobile phone number for you at myNEU.

Please vote as soon as you receive the voting link and vote ‘Yes’ to taking strike action alongside NJC unions in support of their pay claim. And also vote ‘Yes’ to taking strike action alongside teacher colleagues to secure further school funding to fully fund pay awards, protect conditions of service and provide improved levels of staffing provision.

Once the ballot goes live on 16 March, if you have a problem with your voting link, can’t find it or have accidentally deleted it, email [email protected].

 

NEU Rule 10.1 stipulates that authorisation of a formal (postal) ballot for industrial action must follow “an indicative survey of members showing that such a ballot is likely to be successful and meet the legislative requirements.”

The preliminary online ballot will meet the terms of that NEU rule, by asking support staff members whether they are prepared to take strike action alongside members of the recognised unions to secure a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise.

It is likely that we will consult you again at a later date, once we know the NJC employers offer, possibly as part of the formal postal ballot that would follow a successful preliminary ballot.

In order to ensure we can conduct a formal postal ballot on a timescale that will enable support staff members to take strike alongside either NJC unions or teacher colleagues, or both, it is necessary to conduct a preliminary electronic ballot as soon as practicable.

If you have not received your preliminary electronic ballot link by Monday, 18 March, you will need to contact [email protected] to be sent a replacement link.

Support staff members who work in maintained and academy schools in England and Wales will receive a vote.

We have written to the recognised unions who sit on the National Joint Council (NJC) to inform them that we are preparing to consult our members on their willingness to take strike action over the NJC employers’ offer and to register our desire to work alongside them, in a General Election year, by balloting our members to address the funding of jobs and conditions of service. 

Current employment law means that unless you have an employment contract with your school, and that you receive your postings via an agency, you are not an employee of that school, and are ineligible to take part in any industrial action which may arise from a successful indicative survey result.

Yes, you can, as long as you are directly employed by the local authority.

Pay arrangements for sixth form college support staff members are dealt with separately, in talks with the Sixth Form College Association. For further information, please click here.

The relevant NEU Rule states that a preliminary electronic ballot of members must indicate that a formal ballot is likely to meet legal requirements. The law says that any formal postal ballot would need to secure a 50 per cent turnout and a majority ‘Yes’ vote for strike action to be taken. If the result of the preliminary electronic ballot does not meet those stipulations, it’s unlikely that the NEU executive would authorise a formal ballot.

This will depend on a number of factors, and it will be a matter for the executive to decide. Given our stated aim of working with the recognised unions, and also our desire to co-ordinate any action we may take on a cross-NEU basis i.e. NEU teacher and support staff members taking action together, it is too soon to be definitive. Any formal postal ballot is likely to run for ten weeks, alongside a formal ballot for teachers. First things first, we need to secure a successful vote in this preliminary electronic ballot.

Because pay is dealt with differently for the two groups of members. Support staff pay is negotiated by the employers and unions, with an implementation date for any rise of April 1. Teachers’ pay is determined by the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) and any rise is implemented on September 1.

You will get a vote in the electronic indicative survey, however if you will be on maternity leave when the union is likely to take the first day of action, you will not be included in the formal ballot. This is because we can only ballot those members who we can reasonably expect to take strike action.

No, in the event of strike action being called, we will not be issuing strike pay, so you will receive a deduction of salary for any days we are on strike. The loss in salary is, however, far less than you have lost since 2010 due to the pay freeze.

In the event of strike action being called, local districts will set up local industrial action hardship funds. Grants may be made from the Industrial Action Hardship Fund to any member of the district who has suffered or is considered likely to suffer hardship as a result of their participation in industrial action with no strike pay.

Most of the Local Authorities with their own pay arrangements tend to mirror the NJC terms and conditions, so in this case, you should absolutely vote ‘Yes’ in the ballot. If you are employed by an LA that has less favourable pay conditions than the NJC, we would still encourage you to vote ‘Yes’ as there could be an opportunity for local action against your individual employer following a successful indicative ballot. 

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