Support staff at a specialist centre in Dorset providing education and care for disabled children and young people are taking a second day of strike action over pay today (Wednesday), says UNISON.
The strike at the Victoria Education Centre in Poole, run by charity Livability, follows 18 months of pay talks that have so far failed to deliver a pay rise in line with school support staff elsewhere, says the union.
Earlier this year, the centre’s staff – that include teaching assistants, health care assistants and occupational therapists – voted overwhelmingly for action, with 97% saying they were prepared to strike.
UNISON South West organiser Michael Tucker said: “These staff would much rather be in the classroom doing what they do best – caring for and supporting students. Sadly, they can no longer ignore the harsh reality of poverty pay at a time of ongoing cost of living crisis.
“Many staff have not received a pay increase in nearly two years. They simply want Livability to put a fair pay offer on the table and pay them in line with comparable school support staff elsewhere”.
Senior teaching assistant and UNISON rep Rhian Rothery said: “Our pay has been far below local schools for many years.
“Livability staff have been waiting patiently for the outcome of pay negotiations for a year and a half now, but they’ve got nowhere. There’s no other choice but to take strike action.
“Everyone loves their jobs and that’s why they continue to work here. Walking out is the last thing we want to do, but the staff deserve fair pay. We would all much prefer to be doing what we love – giving care and support to our students.”