School staff equal pay claim strike date announced

Generic picture of a school
The union said the strike could involve about 1,500 school support workers [Getty]

Teaching assistants, catering staff and other workers at dozens of schools are to walk out in a dispute over equal pay claims.

The GMB union said the action would take place at 35 Birmingham schools on 14 May, during Sats exam week.

Its members voted to walk out after accusing Birmingham City Council of delaying in settling the equal pay claims.

The local authority had previously said it remained committed to resolving the historic equal pay issues.

'Had enough'

GMB said the walkouts could involve as many as 1,500 school support workers, including grounds maintenance staff.

The council is currently in the process of trying to agree a new job and grading system which it hopes will pave the way for a settlement being agreed.

The dispute relates to claims staff in female dominated roles, such as teaching assistants, have historically been underpaid in relation to those in male dominated areas of the council, such as waste collection.

Birmingham council declared itself effectively bankrupt last September amid an equal pay claim of up to £760m and an £80m overspend on an IT system.

The council has said the £760m, cited in its latest budget, was the "maximum potential liability" and the actual figure could be lower.

The union added the council was due back in court this week as talks to resolve the settlement stalled.

GMB organiser Alice Reynolds said: “Birmingham’s equal pay crisis only ends when council bosses’ hand back the wages they have stolen from women workers."

She said the schools "cannot run" without teaching assistants and support workers.

“Taking strike action is always a last resort, but these workers have had enough of council delays and broken promises," she added.

The council said it had been engaging with GMB on matters of equal pay since November 2021.

It said following the "further agreement" made with trade unions in October last year, it had begun work on "a new approach to job evaluation to settle Birmingham’s equal pay issues once and for all".

The authority said it was "keen to work together with GMB to explore solutions, as it remains committed to resolving historic equal pay issues and settling all legitimate claims from our employees".

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