Deadlock for nursery nurses

19th March 2004 at 00:00
The national strike by nursery nurses showed no signs of ending in the third week of action. Hopes of a gradual return to work, especially in Glasgow, were dashed as the city's education convener said the two sides are "farther apart than at any time".

More than a quarter of the 4,000 strikers work in Glasgow in 127 establishments, making the city a key battleground in Unison's campaign to win a national deal for nursery nurses.

With local deals now agreed in 10 of Scotland's 32 authorities and council leaders claiming that there is "no scope" for a national agreement, Glasgow councillors were told last week that the city's offer to Unison "almost reflected the offers of other authorities and was better than some".

Steven Purcell, the education convener, told the education committee last week that Glasgow was offering an attractive starting point for discussions but "for some reason" was unable to bring Unison to the negotiating table.

Mr Purcell said: "At the end of the day there will be an agreement between Glasgow using the national evaluation drawn up by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as a basis for discussion, but at the moment we are farther apart than ever."

Earlier this week he told The TES Scotland that 83 of the city's 127 nursery establishments were offering "some kind of service".

Carol Ball, education convener of Glasgow City Unison, rejected the notion that the offer was "attractive" and stressed the union's determination to hold out for a national deal.

Ms Ball said: "It is a nonsense to expect nursery nurses in schools and classes to accept a rise of pound;718 at the top of their scale considering the additional duties they have taken up in the last 16 years."

It is understood that the hourly rate in authorities that have settled varies from pound;8.79 to pound;10.13 and that Glasgow's offer starts at pound;9.83. Unison's claim is the equivalent of pound;9.53 to pound;11.94.

Ms Ball said: "Glasgow is pitching its starting point one up from the lowest offer and it will take eight years to get to the top. What kind of planet are they living on?"

She claimed that the strike was "still solid", and said that the limited service referred to by Mr Purcell was due to the council transferring teaching staff to other nurseries.

With Dumfries and Galloway the latest authority to reach a local settlement, agreements have now been struck in Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Highland, Perth and Kinross, Shetland, South Lanarkshire and Stirling.

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