STRIKING school support staff are being forced to sell their homes as a long-running pay dispute drags on, their union revealed yesterday.
The Derby City Council employees’ situation is so desperate that they are putting their homes on the market and trying to find somewhere cheaper to live as the effect of 10 days of strike action and council-imposed pay cuts starts to bite, Unison branch secretary Nicole Berrisford told the Star.
She said: “Even our schools convenor is selling up and moving to a smaller home as she can’t afford to stay where she is. “That means her daughter is changing schools in her GCSE exam year as she will no longer be in the catchment area.”
The news came as school support staff started their latest wave of strike action after overwhelmingly rejecting a “derisory and divisive offer.”
More than 1,200 teaching assistants are set to lose up to 25 per cent of their pay, according to Unison.
Ms Berrisford said that more schools were closed yesterday than on the previous strike days and the support staff had the backing of parents and the public.
Derby City Council claims to have made a £1.1 million offer to settle the dispute, saying the money would help schools mitigate the hours lost by support staff, and to have set up a £600,000 task force to work with Unison and head teachers.
Councillor Lisa Eldret, cabinet member for jobs and fair employment, said: “A settlement also needs to be affordable and Unison’s solution has been costed at £4.6m, which the council cannot afford.”
But Ms Berrisford called the offer disingenuous and warned that Unison members were prepared to take further action if necessary.
She attacked council bosses for “pushing people into poverty and forcing them to decide whether to run a car or put food on the table.”
Meanwhile, council chief executive Paul Robinson is paid a staggering £160,000 a year, receiving more in a month than some school support workers’ annual pay.
“We understand that the government are hell-bent on destroying public services, but don’t take it from the poorest,” said Ms Berrisford.
She urged council bosses to return to the negotiating table to resolve the dispute.
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