Specialist teaching staff working with Sheffield’s deaf children are protesting against cuts which are set to reduce their pay packets by more than £100 a month.
Cost-saving measures being brought in by the council are set to scrap annual pay increments, leading to a pay cut for some specialist assistants.
The changes, which bring in set rates for each grade and job, will save £4 million a year – but the assistants say they are ‘unjust and unfair’.
One said: “Our role involves working with some of the most vulnerable children in the city, many of who have additional disabilities.
“We work with statemented profoundly deaf pupils and enable them to be in an inclusive school environment. If we did not do our job these children would have to be educated out of the city at considerable cost to budgets and families.”
Another assistant said staff were already angry about restructuring moves introduced over three years ago which classed them as part-time employees.
She said: “We then took a significant hit to both our terms and conditions and it is now as if we are being penalised twice.
“We believe there are no other employees in schools who are obliged to be part time.
“We do not work part-time hours – we work exactly the same hours and weeks as we have always done.
“Though school-based staff are exempt from the cuts, we have been excluded from this.
“Other teaching assistants will not be taking a pay cut, contravening any sense of equal treatment.”
The assistants say their pay is being cut on the basis they are earning more than £21,000 a year, which is not the case.
“We can’t earn more because we have been deemed to be part time. We are working the maximum hours allowed with no opportunities for enhancements or overtime.
“Our specialist skills are not being valued or recognised, we feel undervalued and unjustly treated.”
The council’s director of human resources Julie Toner said reductions in salary were being introduced over a three-year period with protection for people earning under £21,000.
She said: “We acknowledge that these proposals are challenging for all our employees, all of whom are valued and who work hard on behalf of the city, but we have to take tough decisions in such difficult times of austerity.
“Our priority is to preserve as many jobs and services as we possibly can.”