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Unison union campaigns for school support staff action
Hugo Pierre, Unison national executive committee (personal capacity)
Unison has started a six-week consultative ballot of 150,000 school support staff in England for strike action against cuts to jobs, pay and conditions.
The Tories have inflicted all this on schools through budget cuts. The consultative ballot includes asking members whether they are prepared to take strike action.
The Tory attacks on school funding have led to school support staff losing their jobs. Many of these staff provide support to children that teachers cannot.
As special schools have closed and more children have been integrated into mainstream classes, these posts have become a vital support to helping students with behavioural problems. Cutting these posts leaves schools without this specialist provision.
Unison members have resisted this in a number of schools around the country with campaigns and industrial action. Strike action has been effective in slowing down these attacks, but left to a school-by-school approach, members' determination is not backed by the support needed to win.
In Labour councils, councillors sit on their hands and claim they have nothing to do with the amount of money the government give schools. But there is nothing to stop them using council reserves to top-up school budgets in crisis, while backing a campaign of school governors, trade unions and staff demanding the Tories put more money in.
Unison members will fight to defend their jobs and pay and will be campaigning in schools for a massive Yes vote so that the official ballot for action can begin.
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