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Date: 10 August 2006

UNISON welcomes national qualifications and job descriptions but asks why no national pay?

UNISON, the union that represents Scotland's Nursery Nurses, today welcomed the Report of the National Review of the Early Years and Childcare Workforce published today, but expressed their disappointment with the Executive's response to the report. In particular the refusal to contemplate national pay, despite accepting national qualifications and 'descriptions of the roles of the workforce'.

Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery Nurse Working Party and a member of the Review Group said; "It is disappointing that the Review Group didn't go further down the road dealing with the implications of the restructuring for pay and conditions in the sector. However the report recognises the need to attract and retain qualified, experienced staff, to raise the profile of the sector and that the new qualification structures will mean we need higher pay to reward workers for increasing responsibility and skill.

"It is deeply concerning therefore that the Executive seems to have set its face against the obvious next step of a national framework of grades related to the jobs and qualifications of early years workers that, recent research* has shown, vary little from area to area. This is also tacitly accepted in the Executive's response with their acceptance of the common description of workers roles within the sector."

The union welcomed the report's recognition of the challenging and changing roles and responsibilities of the early years workforce; that we need to recruit and retain the right people; and that its biggest asset is its workforce.

In particular UNISON welcomes the Review Group's idea of a new qualifications structure for the sector with highly qualified staff at all levels (SCQF levels 9, 8 and 6/7), flexible methods of achieving qualifications and a variety of factors that count towards them. But we are very disappointed that Exec has not accepted the need to recognise the qualifications levels needed below the lead level at this stage.

Carol Ball said "We are ready to play our role in developing this qualifications structure, but the failure to accept the recommendations of the Review Group here will leave a qualifications gap between SCQF 9 and SCQF 5: a gap that most nursery nurses are already ready to step into. It is concerning that the expertise of the Review Group on this important step has been at best postponed and at worst disregarded."

Recent research* also shows that LA Nursery Nurses are already carrying out the bulk of the roles and responsibilities that the Review has identified. UNISON will be taking a detailed look at the other recommendations in the Review Report and the Executive's response and will be discussing with its Early Years members the response we will be making on these and other points.


Note to Editors: The frustration of Scotland's Nursery Nurses with their level of pay, led to a dispute with a range of all-out and one day strikes which took place from May 2003 - June 2004. It finished with Scotland's Councils offering significant upgradings to nursery nurses, although different councils offered different rates. *This research has been published on the UNISONScotland website. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt/nurserynurse/index.html

For Further Information Please Contact: Carol Ball (Scottish Chair NNWP) 07803 952 263(m) Dougie Black (Regional Officer) 07958 121 851(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)