MSPs Briefing on Scotland's Nursery Nurses
The need for a Scottish solution
The current dispute between Scotland's Nursery Nurses
and their employers - Scotland's Council's has been continuing
since UNISON's claim for a review of Nursery Nurse grades, and
career structures was lodged over two years ago.
This was the culmination of the lack of consideration
given to the low-paid status of Scotland's Nursery Nurses since
1988 - and the last review. In May industrial action started when
Scotland's councils, after setting up a Scottish working group,
rejected the possibility of a Scottish-wide offer.
Where are we now
Despite continuing disruption, to the early years
service, consistently high levels of support for industrial action
from Scotland's Nursery Nurses and from Scotland's parents there
has been no resolution to the dispute.
Mainly this has been because of the refusal of CoSLA
to talk about a Scotland-wide settlement since their own 'expert
group' recommended a complex series of proposals that in many
cases, actually reduce the hourly rate of nursery nurses. This
was in September.
Action has continued on a selective basis across
Scotland since September - but there has been no attempt whatsoever
from CoSLA to renew any talks. UNISON's Industrial Action Committee
is currently meeting to discuss the results of a further consultation
amongst nursery nurses on the next round of industrial action.
We will try and keep you informed of the results of that before
the Education Committee Meeting.
Why do we need a Scottish Solution?
1) Nursery Nurses currently have a Scotland -wide
grade. They are clear that there are considerable benefits from
all nursery nurses being paid the same across Scotland.
2) To have all 32 local authorities paying different
salaries would lead to authorities 'leapfrogging' - offering more
where there were retention problems. This would only mean moving
any staffing problem around the country.
3) The vast majority of the increased duties and
responsibilities that have been added to Nursery Nurses jobs in
the last 15 years have been the outcome of Scotland-wide initiatives.
Examples include the 3-5 Curriculum, and the 13 education and
care standards set by the Scottish Commission for the Regulation
of Care etc.
4) The Local councils' Job Evaluation Scheme that
is supposed to precede any move towards the adoption of the Single
Status Agreement is not ready. Indeed the employers themselves
have asked for numerous extensions - the latest being to 2004.
Even then it will take some considerable time to put staff through
the scheme. But this is what employers are suggesting should happen
to nursery nurses! Nursery Nurses say they have waited long enough
- a solution at Scottish level should be found now!
5) Where individual councils have come forward with
local offers they have almost all been based on the (unacceptable)
recommendation of the Scottish employers' 'expert group'! 6) Nursery
Nurses across Scotland have agreed that the job of a nursery nurses
does not differ from authority to authority - why should their
The Executive's response
There is much in the Executive's response that UNISON
finds positive and can agree with.
In particular the work that is being done across
Scotland to ensure that people can look forward to a consistent
'high quality early years service available to all children and
families across Scotland'.
The Scotland-wide initiatives outlined by the Executive,
on service standards, 'recruitment and retention, qualifications
and training, roles, remits and career progression', only back
up UNISON's argument that a Scotland-wide solution is needed to
deliver what the Executive wants.
The main disagreement appears to be the assertion
that a 'national review would divert officials from existing
work on workforce issues.' UNISON is clearly of the view that
the existing work should inform and form part of an overall review
of early years education and childcare.
That review should also address the claim of Scotland's
Nursery Nurses for fair pay and a career structure.
To address the extra duties and responsibilities
Nursery Nurses have already taken on, the Executive should put
pressure on the Scottish employers to get back round the table
with the Nursery Nurses with the aim of achieving a Scotland-wide
resolution of the present damaging dispute.
Nursery Nurses want to deliver the service
Nursery Nurses want to deliver the best education
and care to Scotland's 0-5 year olds (and beyond) that they can.
They would not be in such a low-paid job if they didn't feel a
huge commitment to the role they have. This commitment has been
exploited for too long.
Nursery Nurses feel that the refusal of CoSLA to
listen and address their concerns is symptomatic of the employers'
failure to value the job they do and the service they provide.
Nursery Nurses are vital in providing Scotland's children with
their early educational base. They are providing a professional
service. They deserve a professional salary and structure.
Joe Di Paola -
@ UNISON, 60, Belford Road,
Edinburgh. EH4 3UQ
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0131-220 6389
Carol Ball - firstname.lastname@example.org
@ UNISON, Glasgow City 18, Albion Street,
Glasgow G1 1LH
Tel 0141 552 7069 Fax 0131-552 3807
Chris Bartter - email@example.com
@ the P&I Team, 14 West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141-221 8953