Scotland: Nursery nurses’ action to end poverty pay

The industrial action by Scotland’s nursery nurses for pay and recognition for the job we do is now entering it’s fourth month.

We are fighting to end poverty pay so that a local government nursery nurse would get a basic £17,000 a year. That’s an increase of £4,000 a year from the £13,000 many qualified nursery nurses get today. The action began back in May as the result of an overwhelming yes vote in a ballot that took place in April.

Since then there have been five days of industrial action in May and June – two national and three regional days of strike action.

Nursery nurses have also begun a work to rule which means we are reverting to our original job description which, for most nursery nurses have not been updated for 15 years.

Our employers have relied on, some would say exploited, our good will and professional conduct as they have added additional responsibilities to nursery nurses over the years without the pay and recognition to go with it.

Since the start of the school holidays in July, nursery nurses who work for social services or the social work department, or work a standard 52 week year have also taken part in three further days of strike action.

We are now fed up apologising for what we feel is a just and fair claim and it’s time our employers were put on the spot to see what they are going to do about it.

Our employers are Scotland’s local authorities, made up of elected councillors, who now have a responsibility to settle our claim. After fifteen years it’s about time.

Our campaign has had massive public support from parents, teachers, local government staff and the wider public.

COSLA, our employers are encouraging local negotiations. Each of Scotland’s 32 councils can in theory settle separately. But our original claim is for national recognition of our professionalism and the additional duties that have slowly but surely been added to our day to day duties.

It is important that while negotiations go on locally it is a national campaign for a united pay scale that we are fighting for.

Unless the employers concede to our claim our action must continue. Determined national united action is the best way to deliver a national agreement. We need to ensure that we get the best deal for our members now and the future.

  • Pay the nursery nurses their full pay and regrading claim
  • Build united national action

This article was taken from the August/September issue of International Socialist, newspaper of the CWI in Scotland.

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September 2003