Prior to our recent harmonisation process Victoria School employed 23 teachers on 4 different types of contract and differing terms and conditions. Applying our consultation process has resulted in all teachers being on our One Livability contract, all teachers receiving a 2.75% pay increase (backdated), all teachers receiving employer pension contributions of 23.68%, zero teacher redundancies and zero terminations.
All Livability employees have One Livability contracts – we have approaching 1600 employees at the current time. At Victoria School all 23 teachers have signed the One Livability contract.
Ahead of the strike, we held a number of interactions with the unions explaining the lawful process and the consultation we had undertaken and the fact that the staff are now working under new contracts. We remain prepared to meet with the unions, but we have already completed our consultation process (all teachers were able to have a trade union representative with them during the process). So, despite being prepared, we will not be pressured into meeting with the trade unions.
We are a small values-led school, our priority will remain to give the best possible education and care to every child in Victoria School and to do all that we can to ensure the school and the charity have a future.
We value our teachers’ expertise and are thankful for their hard work; we promulgate their efforts and their results every single day. Together with your Parent Governor we have recently recruited an interim Head Teacher and a (successive) permanent Head Teacher and believe there is an exciting future for Victoria School and its fabulous pupils.
I am saddened with the unions’ actions which demonstrably work against the progress of the school and the charity. The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) at Livability have provided documented evidence of engagement with staff and unions including numerous exchanges of emails which I am satisfied with.
We acknowledge that the teachers at Victoria School are dedicated professionals. This has never been in dispute. They work for a charity that is in deficit and has acted reasonably to create a sustainable future. We acknowledge that it can be a very difficult decision for an employee to take a strike action, but the observation that they are committed to the children and school does not support actions in the best interests of the children.
Livability Victoria School has been informed by the two teaching unions, NASUWT and NEU, that some of their members will take strike action.
The strike action is proposed for the following dates:
The move comes following a period of consultation with teaching staff about their sick pay and maternity pay terms and conditions. The consultation was carried out as part of wider organisational change to support the long-term financial sustainability of the charity.
The school plans to stay open on these days. Although some of the teaching staff feel unable to accept the terms agreed by other members of the organisation, it is expected that the school will remain open on the 24 March.
The new contracts remain in line with the national conditions of employment for pay and pensions as detailed in the Burgundy Book, with the exception of sick pay and maternity pay. During the consultation there were no redundancies, and a 2.75% pay increase was awarded and backdated to September 2020 for all teachers. The consultation period with teachers was comprehensive and ultimately more favourable terms were implemented than were initially proposed. All of the teachers signed the new contracts.
Livability, like most charities, does not have a collective agreement in place, but during the consultation agreed to meet with the Unions. Despite the teachers signing the new contracts, the Unions have continued to recommend the action to strike. It is likely that half of the teachers at Victoria School will participate in this action. It is deeply disappointing that we find ourselves in this position.
Adele Audin, Director for Education
Our primary focus during this time is our students and we will continue to work hard to ensure we minimise the impact on the children, young people and families. We value our staff and will continue to work with our teachers to support them in recognising and understanding the financial challenges we face as an organisation.
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