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Mon 1 Mar 2004

Nursery nurses strike action starts

Around 4,000 nursery nurses started their all-out strike today (Monday 1 Mar 2004), in their campaign for Scotland-wide fair pay. The early indications are of strong support for the action.

Despite many public appeals by UNISON, the employers - CoSLA - have failed to respond with a positive offer of talks.

Nursery Nurses' pay has not been reviewed for nearly 16 years and most basic grade nursery nurses earn as little as 10,000 pounds a year at the beginning of their career - moving up to 13,800 pounds a year after ten years service.

The union is looking for a rise in this basic grade to 14 - 18,000 pounds. The claim recognises the difference between 39 - and 52 -week-working staff by ensuring pay is paid according to the hours worked - whilst retaining the nursery nurses full-time status.

The strike comes after nearly a year of lesser action (one and two-day strikes, boycotts, demonstrations etc) that have been ignored by CoSLA. The union agreed to implement its usual policy of emergency exemptions, asking branches to agree with local employers, cover to ensure no child was put at risk by the action.

Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery nurses working party, said "There has been a year of industrial action of various types, which has disrupted nursery education across Scotland. Faced with the refusal of CoSLA negotiate with nursery nurses representatives about the level of their Scottish grade, nursery nurses reluctantly feel that they have no alternative, but to take all-out strike. No nursery nurse wants to disrupt children's education or parent's working lives. We know how important our work is. But enough is enough, CoSLA cannot continue to exploit that sense of duty anymore."

Pat Rowland, UNISON's Scottish Treasurer, and herself a striking Nursery Nurse from West Dunbartonshire, spoke on the issue at the Scottish Labour Party Conference yesterday "We have had the National 3-5 Curriculum, the National Standards for delivery and management of early years education, and the National Care Standards."

She said. "We submitted a National claim for the regrading of our National scale. I implore those who set these National standards and initiatives to intervene on behalf of those who want to deliver them."

Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser- Local Government) said, "The employers have admitted that the route to a settlement in this dispute lies through a Scotland- wide regrading and have recently admitted that they will not meet the job evaluation deadline that is a pre-requisite for local nursery nurse gradings. Yet they refuse to take these steps, preferring to force nursery nurses out on strike than deal fairly with their claim. This dispute is not just about nursery nurses pay, it is about the future of the nursery service."

A major demonstration is planned for Friday 5 March, in Glasgow. It is likely this will be addressed by the General Secretary of UNISON, Dave Prentis.


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) 07803 952263 (m) Angela Lynes (Chair - UNISON Negotiators) 07979 522606(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)


Nursery Nurses minisite



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