GMB union ballots school support staff over £1,925 pay rise

Members polled over a pay deal worth 10.5% for the lowest-paid school staff and 4% for some higher earners

Members polled over a pay deal worth 10.5% for the lowest-paid school staff and 4% for some higher earners

22 Aug 2022, 10:54

More from this author

RSC advisory board elections have begun, with candidate lists published.

The GMB union is set to ballot more than 50,000 school support staff on whether to accept a £1,925 pay rise offered by local government employers.

Councils proposed the flat increase – worth between 4.04 per cent and 10.5 per cent depending on staff pay – to three local government unions last month. Inflation is currently running at 10.1 per cent, and expected to hit 13 per cent later this year.

Employers also offered an extra day’s leave. The agreement would be binding on council and maintained school staff, and many academy trusts would be likely to mirror the award.

The GMB, which represents more than 100,000 local government employees including teaching assistants and other school staff, said today it would put the offer to members before deciding to approve or reject it. A ballot began today, and will run until October 21.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said many workers were “on the brink of poverty thanks to the crushing cost of living crisis”.

She added: “Any real terms pay cuts risk deepening the staffing crisis, but it’s for our members to decide whether they want to accept this offer.” 

But Unite, which represents a smaller number of school support staff, has already taken a harder line, rejecting the offer earlier this month. It is now balloting its local government members on industrial action, recommending they reject the offer.

General secretary Sharon Graham called it a “pay cut masquerading as an increase”, warning skilled workers were leaving the sector “in droves” after a decade-long pay squeeze.

Strike ballot likely if members reject offer

At the GMB, the latest ballot is only on whether to accept or reject the offer, rather than on potential strike action. It will likely hold further ballots on industrial action if members vote to reject the offer.

Unison, the third union involved in negotiations with the National Employers, which represents more than 250,000 school staff across the UK, was not immediately available for comment on its position.

Its deputy head of local government Mike Short said last month the deal was “better than employees might have expected” given previous limited rises, but “not enough” to make up for a decade of squeezed pay.

The pay rise leaves schools shouldering another big hit to their budgets, after the government also upped its pay rise offer to senior teachers to five per cent without providing additional funding.

DfE analysis suggests core funding to mainstream schools will rise by 6.8 per cent in 2022-23.

Pay spines for 1.4 million council staff are negotiated via the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, made up of local authority employers and unions. Individual councils choose where to place staff on payscales.

Micon Metcalfe, a school finance expert, previously told Schools Week the pay claim was “quite progressive” given the 10.5 per cent uplift for the lowest-paid.

But she warned it would be “expensive for schools, given most of the NJC workforce [is] on lower grades” – with no extra funding attached to the offer.

The National Employers body has written to central government warning jobs and services are at risk without new central government funding.

The pay award is described as a “mitigating step” to prevent the vast majority of non-teaching school staff falling onto the minimum wage, given recent and planned increases in the legal wage floor.

More from this theme


Hinds says ‘all schools’ restrict phones, and 5 more key findings

Schools minister also says the 'option' of statutory mobile phone guidance remains

Freddie Whittaker

CST calls for policy changes over ‘unsustainable’ parent complaints

Academy body says rise in complaints is putting 'significant pressure on school leaders’

Jack Dyson

Poverty: Trusts spend six-figure sums to support ‘crisis’ families

News comes amid calls for chancellor Jeremy Hunt to hand out more education cash in next week's budget

Jack Dyson

Heads and teachers working longer despite workload push

Key government workforce survey reveals longer working weeks, less job satisfaction and more anxiety

Samantha Booth

Number of children ‘missing education’ rises a quarter

117,000 children were not registered at a school and not receiving a suitable education elsewhere at some point last...

Freddie Whittaker

‘Elite’ Star and Eton sixth forms reveal ‘clearing house’ careers role

Partnership between academy trust and top private school also opens new 'think and do' tank

Schools Week Reporter

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One comment

  1. Claire Williams

    I understand the reasoning behind this, but as someone who’s workplace also follows these guidelines, I would rather sacrifice £75 for the year to have this money in my pocket now. If this continues like it did last year we’ll be waiting until March for the backpack to be made when it is now and over the winter that we’re going to need it.