Proposals to amend contracts for Barnsley school meal workers reconsidered after union considers strike action

A trust which runs a Barnsley primary school has reconsidered proposals to amend contracts for school meals staff, after a union considered strike action.

Monday, 28th March 2022, 3:54 pm
Updated Monday, 28th March 2022, 4:19 pm

Public sector union Unison say members at Churchfield Primary School in Cudworth were left “shocked” by plans to change their employment contracts, which the union say would have left them more than £350 per year worse off.

Waterton Community Trust, which has run the school since 2019, wants to remove the school holidays retention payment for the 10 school meals staff, because it does not offer the same payment to staff in its other schools in Wakefield.

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Public sector union Unison say members at Churchfield Primary School in Cudworth were left "shocked" by plans to change their employment contracts, which the union say would have left them more than £350 per year worse off.

Jordan Stapelton, Unison area organiser branded the planned cut “insulting”.

“These school meal workers have gone above and beyond to care for pupils during the pandemic – and this is how they are repaid,” said Mr Stapelton.

“Some may be forced to chose between heating and eating.

“The workers were shocked at first, but they are absolutely clear they will not accept this pay cut and are calling on the trust to see sense and scrap the cut.

“If not, we’ll be forced to consider balloting members for strike action.”

Waterton Academy Trust, however, say the proposal was put to Barnsley staff “in good faith”, adding that it would have benefited “the vast majority of colleagues”.

The trust say they proposed an adjustment to Barnsley support staff terms in January 2022, to take effect from June 2022.

“Albeit that some staff would have been impacted in a negative way,” said the spokesperson in a statement.

“The trust commenced collective consultation with trade unions in early March 2022. Our ambition was to secure agreement from those unions move employees on to the more favourable terms.

“Most unions adopted an appropriate and productive approach to consultation.

“Unfortunately, UNISON chose to adopt a confrontational and unproductive approach, prematurely withdrawing from consultation, giving notice of an industrial dispute and threatening strike action at the school.

“UNISON insisted that the Trust withdraw the proposal with immediate effect and the Trust has acquiesced.

“In light of this aggressive and unnecessary approach from UNISON – the Trust reluctantly withdrew the proposal and closed consultation.

“Our ambition to improve terms for our colleagues has not waned and therefore a new proposal will be submitted over the coming days.”