Striking school workers in Leicester win above average pay rise

After more than 40 days of industrial action, support staff at a Leicester special school have emerged victorious in their fight for fair pay.

Support staff at Ash Field Academy have won a pay rise of up to 25% following a sustained campaign of strike action.

Teaching assistants and school support workers will now get at least the same wages as employees at other special schools locally following the successful conclusion to the dispute, which began in May.

The east Leicester school, which has 163 pupils, had previously been paying many of its employees significantly less than staff doing similar jobs in other local special schools.

UNISON members have now voted overwhelmingly to accept a new, significantly improved pay deal, which will be backdated to September 2022. The settlement brings support staff pay into line with Local Authority-maintained SEND schools; a one-off payment of £2,000 to all support staff; and a contractual agreement to comply with all future nationally-agreed pay awards for school support staff.

Ash Field UNISON steward Tom Barker said: “At a time when the majority of workers across the country, even those in dispute, are facing deteriorating pay and conditions, UNISON members at Ash Field Academy will stand out as a group of workers who have significantly improved their situation.

“Part of this reflects just how badly staff at the school were paid previously. Education support workers are extremely underpaid and undervalued nationally, but at Ash Field Academy things had been much worse for a long time.

“We fought to correct this and we have won. UNISON is immensely proud of all the members who had the courage to make this stand.”

Prabha Ramakrishnan, a UNISON member and teaching assistant, who is also a parent of a child who attends the school, said: “This is a great achievement and it is going to greatly help the school, pupils, parents and support workers in the future by making it easier to recruit and retain staff.

“This victory was only achieved only because support staff stood together to push for fair pay, and were fully supported in their campaign by parents and pupils. Now, despite many struggles and obstacles, the goal of fair pay has been achieved.”