ECSG updates from the frontline: July 2020

ECSG updates from the frontline: July 2020

Prospect negotiators for the education and children's services group give their updates from the last month.



Claire Dent – Negotiations officer for London and the South East

Chris Manning – Negotiations executive for the Midlands and South

Stuart Anderson – Negotiations Executive for Scotland, North and North west

Daniel Maney – Negotiations Officer for Wales

Angela Moffatt – Negotiations Officer for Northern Ireland

Claire Dent

All areas of education continue to be affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. With schools re-opening Prospect has been monitoring the safety of our members as they return to their normal way of working.

Across all of the Local Authorities I cover I have been encouraging engagement in putting in place Risk Assessments, both in sites and individually to ensure staff and service users return safely.

I have had limited feedback from members within Education and Children Services during this period and it continues to be a quiet period both collectively and for personal cases.

Hertfordshire Music Service

This service is estimating a deficit of around £2 million. Because of the huge drop in income they have had to take hard decisions. They have furloughed a third of their staff on 80% salary and also intend to reduce agreed working hours by 20% with effect from the start of the autumn term. Obviously, this is not something Prospect would be agreeing to but no members have raised concerns about this and given the alternative would be large scale redundancies, in this economic climate it seems inevitable.

Croydon Council

I have just been made aware of consultations commencing at Croydon Council on a large scale restructure across all departments. It is not clear at this point how Prospect members may be affected but I am monitoring the situation closely.

Personal Cases

I have resolved both the case in Croydon and Central Bedfordshire with both members satisfied with the outcome achieved.

The member who had not been paid her overtime and holiday pay correctly has now had her case lodged with the Employment Tribunal despite our best efforts to resolve this informally.

This demonstrates Prospect’s commitment to support all our members and if necessary lodge a legal challenge if there are a clear grounds to do so.

Recruitment

Again there has been very limited activity in this area. I would hope that as we move towards more normal times our members will be willing to encourage membership amongst their colleagues and invite Prospect to any team meetings to highlight the advantages of union membership.

Chris Manning

The amount of Prospect involvement across the ECS Group in the South and South West regions continues to be fairly low; a situation exacerbated by the current COVID-19 crisis. However, I continue to support ECS Group members with individual and collective cases involving various workplace issues.

A restructure in Plymouth City Council that had to be put on hold during the COVID-19 lockdown has now restarted. Prospect has a number of affected members and from the outset I have been involved in consultation meetings with the council and discussions with groups of members. I am pleased to say that one of the affected members has volunteered to act as a local Prospect Rep to assist me with providing the highest level of representation possible.

Another restructure that I am involved with is the SEND Service within Hampshire County Council. This process has slowed down across the summer break but will regain momentum in September.

The other cases I am currently dealing with in the ECS Group are both grievance issues and members are benefitting from being supported by Prospect at their time of need.

If you need any advice or support during, and after, these unprecedented times please email wakefield@prospect.org.uk with your enquiry.

Stuart Anderson

With the Impact of COVID-19 still ongoing and at time of writing a presumption that all school children will be back in the classroom full time from September, workload has been a major issue for our members.

Members have had to find new ways of working on familiar tasks as well as having to apply their skill set to a whole new set of challenges. It is in this context that I have advised a number of members regarding unreasonable expectations from management.

The impact of COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse to make unreasonable demands and managers should be made aware if significant amounts of work are being done in the evenings or at weekends.

Restructures were for the most part put on pause by employers at the start of lockdown but are now slowing starting back up.

I have noticed while supporting members at more than one local authority recently that Soulbury pay scales are a point of difficultly. With people being placed in the wrong places on the scale or with local modifications to the scale being attempted, this is a reminder that the Soulbury scale is nationally negotiated by Prospect and should not be varied locally without significant consultation.

Daniel Maney

All state schools in Wales will reopen to all pupils in September for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown started in late March.

Guidance has been issued about children remaining in contact groups and limited social distancing will be brought in to limit possible transmission of the coronavirus.

An extra 900 teaching posts are also being created to help children catch up with the education they have missed.  It is yet unclear what will be happening about Further Education institutions but updates are expected shortly.

Angela Moffatt

Your Education Authority Northern Ireland workplace representative is:

  • Glenn Walsh

We have published new ‘Standards’ especially for education and children’s services professionals in Northern Ireland. You can read more about them in this news story here and document itself can be downloaded from the Prospect library.

Member cases: group & individual issues

We continue to be kept busy with individual and small group issues for EA members on an ongoing basis. If you need help or advice, please get in touch by emailing: ni@prospect.org.uk.