Academy faces strike threat over job cuts

UNION WARNING ... St Josephs Catholic Academy. Below, chairman of governors Terence Carney.

UNION WARNING ... St Josephs Catholic Academy. Below, chairman of governors Terence Carney.

ANGRY teachers are threatening strike action over potential job cuts at South Tyneside’s newest academy.

Union leaders warn that more than 20 jobs could be axed, staff pay cut and posts regraded at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, in Mill Lane, Hebburn, as part of moves to balance the books.

Staff at the school, which only became an academy last summer, are being balloted this week for possible industrial action.

Union leaders say they are prepared to fight to protect jobs and teachers’ rights.

There is also anger about the possible creation of new senior posts, at a time when other staff are facing losing their jobs.

But Terence Carney, chairman of governors, called the strike ballot “premature,” claiming the staff review is unconnected with the former St Joseph’s RC Comprehensive School becoming an academy last July.

In a joint union statement, a spokesman for the South Tyneside branches of the NUT, the NAS/UWT and Unison, said: “Unions representing teaching staff at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy have given the school notice to start a ballot for industrial action later this week.

“Support staff are holding a consultative ballot on industrial action.

“This follows a packed staff meeting, where staff raised serious concerns about proposals for redundancies and restructuring.

“These proposals could see six teachers losing their jobs, with up to 17 support staff, as well as cuts to the pay of 50 teaching staff, through regrading or removal of responsibility posts.

“The proposals will also see an increase in workload for staff as class sizes and teaching hours are increased, at the same time as classroom support is being reduced.

“Staff are particularly angered that, while so many are facing cuts, the proposals include three appointments to the senior management team, including the creation of a new senior assistant headteacher post.

“Teaching union ballots are to start this week and will close just after the Easter weekend.”

Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, added that his union’s two-phase process means its members will first be asked if they wish to move to a ballot for strike action.

Mr Carney, for St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, responding to the balloting for possible strike action, said: “I find this somewhat premature during a period of consultation, when all parties are acting in good faith and in the interests of the school, to address a universal problem facing all schools needing to balance their budgets.”

He added: “It has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that St Joseph’s became an academy.

“These negotiations are active and I am part of that negotiating process.”

Coun John McCabe quit as a foundation governor at the school last year over the move to academy status, slamming the plans as “anti-Christian” and “elitist.”

Union leaders also staged a protest outside the school as governors debated whether to convert the former comprehensive school into an academy.

Twitter @terykelly16

n Classroom anger grows ... Page 6




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