Support staff at 35 Birmingham schools walk out over equal pay

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35 Birmingham schools have been hit by strike action by support staff in an ongoing dispute over equal pay claims.

During the week of SATS exams, as many as 1,500 teaching assistants, catering staff, and other workers went on strike today (Tuesday May 14).

The industrial action was voted for by members of the GMB union in April. The union says the decision is rooted in the delay by Birmingham City Council in settling equal pay claims for teaching assistants and other workers employed by the authority to work in schools.

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Workers at thirty-five city schools voted in favour of the strike, with 96 per cent supporting the industrial action. They stressed that the action would have a huge impact. The dispute relates to claims staff in female-dominated roles have historically been underpaid when compared to men.

35 schools’ support staff across Birmingham have walked out, today, in an ongoing dispute over equal pay claims.35 schools’ support staff across Birmingham have walked out, today, in an ongoing dispute over equal pay claims.
35 schools’ support staff across Birmingham have walked out, today, in an ongoing dispute over equal pay claims.

Alice Reynolds, a GMB organizer, spoke to BBC Midlands Today, stating that the staff had been undervalued and it was time for a change.

The city council declared bankruptcy, in September due to an equal pay claim of up to £760m and an £80m overspend on an IT system. However, the council stated that the £760m mentioned in the budget was the maximum potential liability and could be less.

The council has started working on a new job evaluation process to address the equal pay issues. But, Ms Reynolds criticised the authority for not informing them when the claims would be resolved, stating it had been “kicked into the long grass”

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“Job evaluation won’t pay back the money that women have had stolen from them for years,” she said. “Women in schools and many areas across the council have not been valued properly.”

She mentioned that some schools would have to shut down due to the strike action, but most of these would be partial closures. She added, “These women value their jobs and their school communities more than anything. The fact that they’ve chosen to go on strike during SATS week is actually a phenomenal step for them to take.

All schools are still open, but the following Birmingham schools are where GMB school support staff members are on strike:

Arden Primary School

Beeches Junior School

Benson Community School

Boldmere Infants & Nursery School

Bordesley Green East Nursery School

Bordesley Green Primary School

Chad Vale Primary School

Cherry Orchard Primary School

Chilcote Primary School

Clifton Primary School

Colmore Infant & Nursery School

Colmore Junior School

Elms Farm Primary School

Forestdale Primary School

George Dixon Primary School

Gunter Primary School

Harborne Primary School

Hodge Hill Girls School

Jakeman Nursery School

James Watt Primary

Kings Heath Primary School

Lozells Junior & Infant School

Marsh Hill Nursery

Minworth J & I School

Nelson Mandela School

Newtown Nursery School

Redhill Primary School

St. Benedicts Infants

St. James C E Primary School Handsworth

Stanville Primary School

Wheelers Lane Primary

Worlds End Junior School

Yardley Primary School

Yardley Wood Community Primary School

Yorkmead Junior & Infants School

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