Teacher Strikes: advice for school support staff in UNISON

National Education Union (NEU) has announced that they will be taking strike action in schools and sixth form colleges over pay and funding, starting on 1 February.

They have announced a series of days of strike action in England and Wales for teachers.

The planned dates of action are:

  • Wednesday 1 February (England and Wales)
  • Tuesday 14 February (just Wales)
  • Tuesday 28 February (Northern, North West and Humber)
  • Wednesday 1 March (East Midlands, Western, Eastern)
  • Thursday 2 March (London, South East, South West)
  • Wednesday 15 March (England and Wales)
  • Thursday 16 March (England and Wales)

UNISON Advice for School Support Staff

UNISON respects the rights of other trade unions to take industrial action and supports the other unions’ strike action. We urge members to support legal protests and rallies organised by NEU that take place outside your contracted hours of work.

However, UNISON members in schools and sixth form colleges have not been balloted for strike action or action short of strike action on this occasion and are therefore advised to continue with their normal duties and responsibilities.  UNISON members should not take on any additional responsibilities being given to them directly as a result of other unions’ industrial action.

Support staff should not be expected to provide cover for, or take classes, where this would normally be done by teachers who are taking action. Staff should not be moved from the duties they would normally have carried out in order to cover work and frustrate the industrial action of colleagues. This includes any staff employed as either HLTAs or Cover Supervisors. In Cymru/Wales, in workplaces where NEU members who are support staff are taking strike action, UNISON members should not be moved to cover those colleagues’ duties either.  Members who are under pressure to provide cover for striking colleagues should contact their UNISON rep, branch or region for further advice and support.

Members are reminded that due to industrial relations legislation only those employees who have been involved in a legal ballot are allowed to take industrial action.

HLTAs and Cover Supervisors

Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) should only do ‘Specified Work’ with the support and/or supervision of a Qualified Teacher. Cover Supervisors supervise students who are working to a lesson prepared by a Qualified Teacher, usually a classroom teacher.

If you are in either of these roles you should not be expected to take whole classes on the day of a strike if the teacher that normally supervises, supports or prepares your work is on strike.