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Members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union at Victoria Education Centre in Poole are taking five days of strike action starting next Tuesday (30th March) over changes to their contracts which will undermine their terms and conditions.

Staff at the centre, which caters for children with physical disabilities or complex medical/neurological conditions, have been placed under duress to accept new contracts which undermine their rights on sickness and maternity pay, having been threatened with termination of their contracts and the withholding of an agreed pay award if they refused to sign.

As a result of the failure of the employer to engage meaningfully with the NASUWT over the consultation on the planned changes to contracts, the Union has announced five days of non-consecutive strike action.

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“It is unacceptable that in the middle of national pandemic the employer has sought to downgrade teachers’ contractual provisions, including on sickness absence. This will undermine the provisions for teachers who become ill or who need to self-isolate in a context where the Centre has remained fully open during the pandemic, in an area that has had some of the highest infection rates in the South West and where, because of the nature of the setting, staff are in constant close contact with pupils and are unlikely to be able to practice social distancing.

“Members have shown huge commitment to the children that attend the Centre, often putting their own health and that of their families at risk to keep the Centre open for the children.  They have not chosen to take this action lightly, but feel they have no alternative due to the failure of the Employer to engage meaningfully over these contractual changes.

“Strike action can be avoided if the employer demonstrates genuine willingness to work with us to address the concerns of members. We continue to stand ready to engage in further negotiations.”

Mike Leigh, NASUWT National Executive Member for Poole, said:

“The employer has not provided the NASUWT with any adequate financial evidence to justify these changes to teachers’ contracts and has consistently dismissed the concerns of staff in seeking to force them to accept the detrimental changes to their terms and conditions.

“Seeking to impose such changes at a time when members have gone above and beyond to maintain education and support for their pupils during the pandemic beggars belief.

“Staff at the centre are qualified teachers and deserve terms and conditions that recognise them as such.”

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