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Some teachers claim to be living in poverty

Some teachers claim to be living in poverty

Monday 24 April 2023

Some teachers claim to be living in poverty

Monday 24 April 2023


Guernsey stands accused of allowing "committed and caring professionals" to be forced into relative poverty by its inability to settle a long running pay dispute between teachers and the States.

At a Tribunal today - the first time a pay dispute has reached this stage in Guernsey in a decade or longer - teaching unions claimed some "lower to middle ranking teachers" have to turn off their heating, use charity shops and feed their own children while they go hungry, because of "pay erosion" experienced over the past 15 years.

That was challenged by the panel representing the States of Guernsey who said the "anecdotal evidence" could not be verified and therefore should not be treated as fact.

The Tribunal was urged by both sides to make a decision based on facts - which the States representatives said should not include any claim of poverty stricken teachers, while the unions' representatives said it was a fact that teachers are paid less now in real terms than they were in 2007.

skint poor bankrupt empty benefit income support cost of living

Pictured: "Anecdotal evidence" suggested some teachers are experiencing relative poverty - P&R urged the Tribunal to make a decision based on facts not "hyperbole".

Current pay offer

The pay offer made to teachers more than a year ago was to cover 2022, 2023 and 2024.

It includes a 5% uplift to salaries for 2022, plus a sum of £500 which would be consolidated into pay scales and become permanent and pensionable (backdated to 1 January 2022 with the applicable RPIX of 2.3%).

It also offered an uplift equal to RPIX as at 30 June 2022, which was 7%, for 2023, and an uplift equal to RPIX as at 30 June 2023, minus 1% for 2024.

In the event that RPIX falls below 1% this year then teachers would be given a pay award of zero to avoid a pay cut.

The arguments

The panel representing the teachers - led today by Collas Crill Partner Michael Adkins - repeatedly said staff had experienced pay erosion since 2007/08 while the panel representing the States said that is irrelevant as numerous pay deals had been agreed since then and it is the current offer that will be subject to the Tribunal's decision, not any prior award. 

The unions' representative said a pay deal agreed in 2017 was "grudgingly settled" by staff, with the assurance that wider concerns would be considered.

A 2020 pay dispute was not settled but teachers made a "pragmatic decision" to agree as the island was in the midst of the global covid pandemic.

Since then, the unions said there has been no further work to settle any of the concerns previously raised and that many staff say they're experiencing worse conditions post-covid than they were before.

Adkins Mahoney teachers pay tribunal

Pictured: Collas Crill Partner, Michael Adkins, and P&R Employer lead Deputy David Mahoney.

In response, P&R - as the employing body for the States of Guernsey - challenged the unions on many of its financial claims which included using median earnings as a starting point for comparisons, and the size of the island's financial deficit.

P&R's representatives - led today by Deputy David Mahoney - said that the unions had not convinced them that the pay offer made to teachers was unreasonable. The panel highlighted that all other pay groups have accepted their offers.

P&R also raised concerns that if the Tribunal makes an award in their favour, teachers may strike to protest against the binding award anyway which raises concerns about the unions' commitment to the Tribunal process.

Who is who

Today's Tribunal panel was chaired by Roy Lewis.

He was joined by Jamie Roussel and Nicolla Tanguy.

teachers Pay tribunal

Pictured: The P&R panel at today's Tribunal.

Policy and Resources (the employer) was represented by Deputy David Mahoney, 

He was joined by Collette Falla; Director of Employment Relations, Glen Simons; States Lawyer, Stephen Glencross; HR Manager for Education, Sport and Culture, and Nick Hynes; Director of Education.

The teachers (the employee) were represented by Michael Adkins of Collas Crill.

He was joined by fellow Collas Crill Advocate Jess Burgess and union representatives Wayne Bates, Victoria Wallace, Paul Montague, Jerry Thomas, Helen Ball, and Scott Alexander.

teachers pay tribunal

Pictured: The panel representing the teaching unions.

The decision

The Tribunal Panel of Chair Roy Lewis, Jamie Roussel and Nicolla Tanguy closed the hearing and dismissed the two sides at around 15:00 this afternoon.

Following that, the trio went into discussions between themselves about what they had heard, and the written evidence they had received.

Both P&R and the unions were to submit further financial statistics by the end of today after figures given in evidence by the unions had been queried by P&R. The Tribunal Panel will consider those figures along with the other gathered evidence before making a decision.

The decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday morning.  

Read more...

TODAY: Teachers v The States

Teachers and States to go head to head

"Very fair award" remains open to teachers

Teachers want to strike

Teachers could 'work to rule' in pay row

Teachers could strike over pay dispute

Teachers "seriously considered" quitting

Teachers' union: “Failure to commence negotiations in good time is unacceptable"

States want staff vote on pay deal

Line drawn under pay negotiations

Pay rise "not accepted"

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