Support staff at Kenley Primary School are being balloted by their trades union over possible strike action.
The dispute is over changes to the staff’s terms and conditions, which has created issues over unpaid backpay, and which the GMB union says is causing real financial difficulties for its members.
The ballot of staff at the school, which is on Barns Lane, is due to run until March 31. If enough union members support industrial action, any strikes will take place after Easter.
Kenley Primary joined the Collegiate Trust academy in September 2021, becoming the seventh school across Croydon and Crawley to be run by the trust, who are effectively the employers of the support staff.
These include caterers and teaching assistants, and they are often among the worst-paid workers in a school. Some are only paid pro rata – so receive no pay when the schools are on holiday.
“When staff at Kenley Primary transferred to the Collegiate Trust, they were made assurances that their terms and conditions would not be affected – something which should be protected by law,” Rachael Baylis, the local GMB organiser, said.
“Instead, the change of their pay anniversary has been moved from April to September, meaning that these employees are five months behind their local authority counterparts.
“This not only affects any backpay they may have been due on a pay award, but will then also have a knock-on effect on pensions, tax and, of course, future pay rises.
“GMB is demanding not only that the trust pay the back pay for the five months from 1 April 1 to September 1 2022, but also that the workers receive a financial compensation award for having their future pay rises moved back five months.
“GMB have given the Collegiate Trust plenty of opportunity to remedy this situation and yet they have failed to put forward an offer which adequately addresses the financial detriment that GMB members at the Collegiate Trust are facing.
“Our members have indicated that they are prepared to take action in order to secure what is rightfully theirs, and I recommend the Trust management get around the table with GMB and stop this strike in its tracks before it starts in earnest.”
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