The Socialist 11 October 2003
Bosses Get Rich - Workers Get 30p
Scotland: Nursery Nurses Forced To Strike Again
NURSERY NURSES in Scotland are angry and disappointed. After five months of industrial action by Scotland's nursery nurses the employers' body Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) have walked away from negotiations.
Alison Hughes, Dundee City council UNISON
This followed our union UNISON's rejection of the employers' "framework" for resolving the dispute.
UNISON are now escalating action by announcing a series of five-day strikes in most of Scotland's 32 local authorities.
"Cosla's proposals were an insult" - Tracey Clayton, a nursery nurse from Dundee told us. "It would have meant nursery nurses who currently work a 321Ú2 hour week moving to 35 hours - which we are happy to do.
But we would have ended up working an extra 100 hours a year for an effective wage cut of £500 or 10p an hour less that we get now."
Cosla claimed that their framework would have allowed a "fully competent" nursery nurse to earn £18,000 a year.
Even then a nursery nurse would have to be promoted to team leader and work an extra 656 hours a year to achieve that wage.
Tracy said: "But that would only apply to a small minority of nursery nurses. Even the term "fully competent" is insulting. Who decides that? Does that mean those of us who did not attain that salary were not "fully competent".
"I've been a nursery nurse for 18 years now. I'm in my eighth year of study. I have a diploma, now I'm working for a BA. I earn £13,000 a year. Our dispute was about recognition for the job that we do. Cosla's offer, which was only being "recommended" to the local councils in Scotland was not good enough.
"They're just not listening to ordinary nursery nurses. Those of us who are on the picket lines. We don't want to strike. We are proud and committed to the job that we do for young children. We just feel sad and undervalued.
"But our fight goes on. We want a national agreement so that all nursery nurses are paid the same for the job that we do, no matter what council we work for."
Nursery nurses are fighting to end 15 years of low pay. A salary that recognises the increased responsibilities and professionalism of nursery nurses. UNISON are arguing for nursery nurses to be put on a pay scale beginning at £17,340 and rising to £21,700 with a clear job description and career structure.
Given the job and responsibilities that we do, that is not a lot to ask for.
In this issue
Labour and the unions
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis