Wirral school staff threaten walk out over cut to hours and pay

Wirral UNISON has today (Wednesday) launched a ballot which asks 20 school support staff at Woodchurch Road Primary School whether they want to take strike action.

The union’s strike ballot has emerged in response to a proposed cut to Woodchurch Road Primary School staff’s hours of up to 20%. This cut to hours could see teaching assistants and play workers lose out as much as £3885 in pay every year.

The school- which is run by the local authority- is currently looking to cut over £100,000 from their financial deficit.

A Woodchurch Road Primary School teaching assistant said: “I’m passionate about my job as a TA in Woodchurch Road Primary School and I am fully committed to the children, who I believe will suffer hugely both academically and pastorally, due to a greatly reduced level of TA support in and around the classroom. 

“Since the school’s financial discrepancies first came to light a few years ago, we are already running on a reduced staff and this will be on going for the foreseeable future until the debt is significantly reduced. As a result, both myself and the remaining TAs are under increased pressure on a financial and an emotional level due to no fault of our own.

“In an attempt to reduce the debt, it has been proposed that TAs are to undertake a 20% pay cut – this equates to working one day per week unpaid!  Not only will this affect the day to day running of the school, it will negatively impact on my personal finances thus causing great worry and distress.”

Wirral UNISON Schools Officer Steve Bennett said: “Teaching assistants and play workers are absolutely essential to the education Woodchurch Road provides to local children.

“Cutting school support staff’s hours affects not only their families’ livelihoods, but also the futures of the children who attend.”

Wirral UNISON Deputy Branch Secretary Lois Founds said: “We have heard during this pandemic about how essential education is; we agree. So why is the Council putting the future of this local school at risk?

“The blame for this school’s financial woes does not lay with its dedicated teaching assistants or play workers. And the solution to these financial issues must not result in cutting standards of education for our children or driving key workers into poverty.

“We vow to launch a campaign uniting the local community and the school’s support staff to ‘Save Woodchurch Road School’. This is what our members, the community, and crucially, the children who attend the school deserve.”

Mick Whitley, MP for Birkenhead said: “I am very concerned at the proposal to cut staff hours at Woodchurch Road Primary School. I would ask the Council to reconsider the proposed cuts and open constructive negotiations with the trade union, Unison, on alternatives that can save the future of this school and the jobs of its staff.”

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