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January 2021 schools advice

This advice applies to all primary schools, special schools, SEND and early years settings in England.

In UNISON’s view, it is unsafe for you to attend the workplace at present if your school is fully opened to all pupils.

Read more on UNISON's National website -

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UNISON is holding a consultation of local government NJC members across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to decide whether we accept or reject the NJC Employer’s side offer of a 2.75% pay increase for 2019/20.

In the North West our Regional Service Group, made up of representatives from each branch, agreed to recommend to REJECT the offer.

To set out the reasons why NJC workers are worthy of fair recognition we have launched the First They Clap Us, Then They Slap Us campaign.

Throughout the pandemic local government workers, including thousands of UNISON members in Blackpool, have played a vital role in supporting people, communities and businesses and keeping essential local services going. From highly visible services such as bin collections, to less visible services such as processing benefit payments, to lifeline services such as preparing and delivering essential supplies to vulnerable and shielding residents, our members have shown the true spirit of public service and shone a light on the too-often-forgotten importance of local authority provision. As millions of people and politicians of all parties stood on doorsteps to applaud key workers we heard Government ministers say that local authorities would be “given what it takes”. We believe that has to translate to include fair recognition and a fair pay offer for our NJC members.

Which is why the 2.75% pay offer is a slap in the face for all NJC workers at this time. Here's just a few reasons why:

  • Since 2010, the average loss of real pay value for a NJC worker is 22%. Years of pay freezes and below-inflation rises have eroded our pay substantially. The 2.75% pay increase doesn't even scratch the surface of the earnings we've lost. We are worth so much more.
  • NJC workers have undertaken incredible work during this pandemic, going the extra mile then going again to keep schools open for vulnerable pupils, running key local services and often putting themselves at increased risk. If ever there was a time for fair recognition and a fair pay offer, that time is now.
  • A fair pay rise is affordable. The money has been found for HS2, for upgrading Trident, for a £900,000 paint job for the Prime Minister’s plane and other Government vanity projects. Yet there is no money for us? It is simply a matter of priorities.
  • MPs voted to give themselves a 3.1% pay rise- taking their basic pay to £82,000 per year, an increase of nearly £2,500. On top of that MPs voted themselves an extra £10,000 in ‘recognition of additional pandemic expenses’.
  • A decent pay rise pays for itself - 50% of the total pay bill increase would be directly recouped through generating additional income tax, National Insurance, VAT and a reduction of in-work benefits payments – which all goes straight back to the Treasury. Extra cash in the pocket also means extra money spent in local shops and businesses to support other jobs. But there is no money for us? It is simply a matter of priorities.

From the 20th July we will be sending members who are on NJC terms and conditions either a ballot paper or, where possible, a link to vote online.  Make sure you look out for it and Vote to REJECT the pay offer.

You can recive future consultation ballots via email.  It saves the branch on postal and printing costs.  To ensure that your voice is heard in this way, we need an up-to-date email address so we can contact you. Update your details online by visiting

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Wider reopening of schools in June


UNISON has consistently opposed the expansion of pupil numbers in primary schools and nurseries in England on 1st June. We believe that it increases the risks to pupils, staff, parents and the wider community, especially in coronavirus hotspots such as Blackpool.  Many councils and schools have agreed with UNISON and are delaying the expanded return to work. Unfortunately, the government is pressing ahead with its plans and some schools are set to open more widely from Monday 1st June, including here in Blackpool.

UNISON has issued advice for our members working in schools that are planning to reopen in June.  This can be found herePlease read this advice very carefully. It outlines a series of steps you must take if you have serious specific concerns that returning to work will endanger your health or if your school’s plans are not adequate.

If you are thinking of submitting one of the letters included in the new materials, please read them thoroughly and look at your specific circumstances before sending them and before contacting your branch. However, if you fit the criteria and have carried out the steps and have specific concerns then contact the branch (01253 478492 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) before you send any of these new letters.

We understand this is an extremely stressful time and we are committed to doing all we can to support you. UNISON will support you if you believe your health and safety is at serious risk if you go into school on 1st June.

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Covid-19 FAQs for school staff in England


UNISON has produced FAQ's for school staff in England.  These can be downloaded here.

They cover:

• Operational issues
• Pay
• Easter and weekend working
• Health and safety
• Home working

The NJC guidance contained within these FAQs applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Links to UNISON websites for the develoved nations are also included.


For all the latest Covid-19 information for school support staff:

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COVID-19 - NJC Circular - critical workers


New (23rd March, 2020) joint guidance has been issued by the NJC joint secretaries on Covid-19, with a focus on critical workers durring the Coronavirus outbreak.  This can be downloaded here.  This is applicable to Council, School, BCH and other workers who are employed on NJC Terms & Condition.

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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme


Blackpool Unlimited has produced some guidance for employers and businesses durring the Coronavirus outbreak which may be worth knowing if your employer says they cannot continue your employment.  Just point them to the advice on the Job Retention Scheme and enciurage them to use it.  The webpage can be found here.

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