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Date: Thursday 15 November 2007

Academy refuses talks on staff grievances

Glasgow Academy, one of Scotland's most prestigious schools, has refused to talk to UNISON about grievances raised by low-paid kitchen staff despite the union writing to them twice.

After weeks of waiting the school has now responded to say that they do not want to enter in to discussions with UNISON.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Regional Officer said today "I am astonished that a major organisation like Glasgow Academy has snubbed my request to meet them and discuss serious issues affecting our members. We represent staff who provide the meals to pupils at the school and we have grave concerns about their health and safety and their conditions."

UNISON had raised concerns that whilst they are serving some of the most privileged pupils in the country members were risking their health lifting vats of scalding water due to a boiler being off to save money. Whilst this apparently was remedied after the union raised the issue, there is still no ventilation in the plate and pot washing area leading to extreme heat, and staff still have to lift trolleys with hot liquids up stairs that pupils are using. As well as health and safety, terms and conditions are also a major concern.

Simon Macfarlane said, "It is interesting that, since UNISON has written to the school, management have taken steps to tackle some health and safety hazards, which shows we are having an impact. But I have to ask - why not sit down and talk to us? What are they afraid of?"

"We represent the catering assistants in the school, yet the school won't speak to us about vital health and safety matters. These workers are paid the minimum wage, with no sick pay or pension scheme. This is at a school where fees in excess of £7,500 are charged per pupil per year, more than our members earn."

"There has been much debate over the charitable status of private schools like Glasgow Academy and the benefits this gives them. I can certainly say there is no sign of charity at this school towards our members. Indeed the treatment of them is Dickensian. That's why we are calling on parents and others to pressurise the school to meet with UNISON and discuss our members' concerns."


For further information please contact: Simon Macfarlane, Regional Officer 07703194132 Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715583729