Dorset charity support staff announce two-day strike in Livability pay dispute

Staff will walk out on Wednesday 31 January and Thursday 1 February

Support staff at a specialist centre in Dorset providing education and care for disabled children and young people are striking over pay next week, says UNISON.

Staff at the Victoria Education Centre, run by charity Livability, will walk out on Wednesday 31 January and Thursday 1 February.

The latest strike follows 18 months of pay talks that have failed to deliver a wage rise in line with what school support staff received elsewhere, says the union.

Last year, the centre’s staff – including 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: “Staff would much rather be in the classroom supporting students than on the picket line.

“However, 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 what school support staff get paid 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, 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.”