Staff from the Orchard Day Nursery in Huyton are holding the first of three strikes today over pay and workplace issues.
Knowsley UNISON started representing staff at the nursery last September and submitted a claim for a £15 pay rise in liaison with the Trade Union Congress and UNISON minimum wage policy.
Following discussions with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, the claim has now been reduced to between £11.50 and £11.80, which has caused three days of industrial action.
Karen Greer, the branch organiser and administrator from Knowsley UNISON said: “The staff are on £9.50 an hour. Other differentials and those under 23 and 21 are also receiving statutory minimums, so those people are not even on £9.50.
“When we surveyed the members of staff who came to us saying we’d like to make a pay claim, they were also asking how to apply for loans, people were going to food banks, so these staff who are on statutory minimum wage are struggling to afford to live.”
2023 budget and national day of action
Orchard Day Nursery are joining hundreds of thousands of striking teachers, civil servants, junior doctors and BBC radio Merseyside staff today as Jeremy Hunt prepares to announce the 2023 budget.
There has already been speculation surrounding the announcement including a plan to increase the ratio of children to nursery staff to bring childcare costs down and to tempt parents back to work.
Karen shared her concerns about this and said: “That would be a risk assessment and it would need addressing.
“We would definitely ask the staff there to monitor that and we would hope that no rules and guidance will be broken with regards to health and safety.”
UNISON gained a voluntary recognition agreement with the employer which had a density of over 90%, believed to be the highest for a private or even public sector nursery in the country.
This agreement will allow staff to be supported and the full range of pay and working conditions to be negotiated.
Despite delaying the strikes to arrange talks, the Directing Manager of the Huyton nursery was only prepared to speak with staff if they were called off.
Further frustration has been caused due to only a few parents being informed about the strike dates.
UNISON members took matters into their own hands yesterday and posted leaflets to the remaining parents who had not been notified.
This morning we leafleted parents at Orchard Day Nursery giving the staff side response to the inaccuracies sent to parents on Friday.
Concerning that many parents were unaware of the action tomorrow because they failed to receive the email or any other communication! pic.twitter.com/6UQucfNMBD
— Knowsley Unison (@KnowsleyUnison) March 14, 2023
The Huyton nursery staff will continue to strike next week on March 21 and 23.
Thousands of people have signed an online petition in support of Orchard Day Nursery staff which can be found here.