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4 Aug 2003

Scottish Exec figures show increasing pressure on nurseries as strike action hits East and West Dunbartonshire

The Scottish Executive has released figures that show increasing demands and decreasing staff in the pre-school sector, as the next phase of the UNISON nursery nurse strike action is about to hit East and West Dunbartonshire tomorrow. Three days of strike action in each authority will close day nurseries and children and family centres as the nursery nurses' campaign for a fairer pay deal intensifies.

The Pre-school and Day Care Census shows: The number of children attending pre-school education has risen by 6% since Jan 2002. The number of local authority pre-school education places has increased by 4% in the same period The number of centres providing pre-school education has increased by 7% However the number of staff working in the sector has dropped by 3%. And the number of local authority staff has fallen by 13%.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said: "These Scottish Executive figures confirm what our members have been saying for some years. Fewer staff are educating and caring for more and more children. It is clear that there is a bigger and bigger demand for pre-school education and care.

"Employers would have been better talking to them to resolve the dispute, rather than creating a sideshow of a group to help them off their hook, and justify some nebulous offer."

Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery Nurse Working Party said: "We have been saying throughout this campaign that staff are leaving the profession because of the poor level of pay and lack of career structure. It looks although the Scottish Executive figures agree with us. We regret that the Executive has not produced a staff:child ratio as they did last September. It is clear from the figures they have produced, however that more children are being looked after by fewer staff, and this is will not be beneficial for them or their education."

The action forms part of a six week programme involving UNISON branches throughout Scotland and builds on the momentum of Scotland-wide strikes and 'work to rule' since May 2003. Further action will be discussed by the union's Industrial Action Committee later this month, unless moves are made to resolve the dispute.

Nursery Nurses in ordinary nursery schools and classes are only on £13,800 at the top of their grade. They have been taking action since May 2003 for a deal to recognise their two-year training and the host of additional duties they have taken on. Their last review was 15 years ago.


Note for editors:- The SUMMARY RESULTS OF THE 2003 PRE-SCHOOL AND DAYCARE CENSUS was published by the Scottish Executive on 29 July 2003. The report is available on the Scottish Executive website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00264.00.asp

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Gov't)0845 355 0845 (o) 07790 505 698 Carol Ball (Chair - NN Working Party) 07803 952 263 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(o) 0771 558 3729(m)

See Nursery Nurse Campaign pages for full details of future action