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14 January 2004

Nursery nurses to ballot on all-out strike

More than 4,000 of Scotland's nursery nurses still in dispute with local councils will ballot on an all-out indefinite strike next month unless there is a resolution to their two-year old claim, UNISON said today.

UNISON's UK Industrial Action committee agreed unanimously yesterday to authorise the escalation in an attempt to bring the nine-month campaign of industrial action to a head. The union will also call three days of action prior to the indefinite strike.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for local government said " Despite days of action, and selective strikes, petitions and concentrated lobbying by UNISON nursery nurses and parents, CoSLA has continually failed to recognise the value of the nursery nurses' job, and the need for their grading to be tackled. We have been consulting with nursery nurse members across Scotland and they have told us that they feel they no longer have any alternative but to move towards all-out strike action.

"We have only moved to this stage with the utmost reluctance. Even now we are proposing to ballot our members, to give an opportunity for CoSLA to come back to the table, or for any other initiatives to avoid this action. It is ironic that we are having to announce this on a day when the Scottish Executive has reported a number of positive developments for early years education and care to the Parliament's Education Committee. Not only do their Scottish-wide initiatives back-up our arguments for a Scottish settlement, but unfortunately all these developments are being put at risk by CoSLA's intransigence."

CoSLA has so far refused to consider negotiating an increase to the current Scottish scale, claiming that individual councils should deal with gradings locally. UNISON points out that nursery nurse jobs are dictated by Scottish-wide curricula and standards. And that nursery nurses have overwhelmingly rejected local deals in all but a handful of councils.

Angela Lynes, Chair of UNISON's Scottish negotiators, and the union's Industrial Action Committee said "It is already clear that CoSLA cannot introduce the job evaluation scheme required to process local deals. They are going to miss a deadline that they have already had extended by two years. Why should nursery nurses wait any longer than the 15 years they have already waited?"

Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery Nurse Working Party, said " We need a recognition that a Scottish-wide settlement is the right way forward. Nursery Nurses are graded on a Scottish grade, the claim has been submitted across Scotland and the increased duties and responsibilities are the same across Scotland.

"It is deeply disappointing that CoSLA cares so little about the disruption of early years education they have been prepared to stonewall all previous attempts to negotiate a Scottish settlement. No-one wants this disruption to parents and children - especially not the nursery nurses who educate and care for them."


For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Govt) 0845 355 0845(w) 07990 505698(m) Carol Ball (Chair Nursery Nurse WP) 0141-552 7069(o) 07803 952263 (m) Angela Lynes (Scottish NEC member) 0141-552 7069(o) 07979 522 606(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Nursery Nurse minisite