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Strikers supported by parents

PUBLISHED: 17:34 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:06 11 August 2010

STRIKE action closed Trinity Special School last week but some parents did not get the message and arrived to find the gates locked and staff picketing outside. The school, in Heathway, Dagenham, caters for children with disabilities and learning difficul

STRIKE action closed Trinity Special School last week but some parents did not get the message and arrived to find the gates locked and staff picketing outside.

The school, in Heathway, Dagenham, caters for children with disabilities and learning difficulties.

GMB union led the strike, which was supported by over 85 members.

Representative for GMB, Justin Bowden, said: "The strike went very well and was well supported.

"We had people from the local community come out to say they supported us.

"Some parents arrived and had not been told the school was closed.

"They were understandably angry, but not at us."

The school closed on Thursday, March 19 after members of support staff gathered outside to protest the decision not to give them a special educational needs allowance.

Teachers at Trinity receive the allowance which is an annual sum of £1,912.

However support staff, including co-educators, classroom assistants and instructors do not.

One teacher at the school, who did not want to be named, said: "It takes four years to qualify to be a special needs teacher.

"We take on more responsibility and so we are paid more.

"The support workers at this school, who do a fantastic job, are the highest paid in the borough. And rightly so. But they shouldn't expect to be paid the same as teachers.

"This strike only hurt the parents and children who depend on this school."

Two weeks ago almost two years of talks between the school and GMB broke down after the allowance was offered to some members but not all.

Justin Bowden said: "We are hopeful that the strike will focus the minds of the school and the council on this issue.

"GMB members are very serious about their claim and I am now waiting to be approached so we can get around a table and hammer out a solution.

"If there is not any willingness to talk on the part of the school and the council then unfortunately further strike action is a possibility.

"There are over 100 support staff at Trinity and only around 25 teachers, the school cannot function without its support staff."

A council spokesperson said: "We are very disappointed that the strike went ahead and it is unfortunate that Trinity School pupils were denied a day of education.

"The council and Trinity Special School Governing Body remain committed to holding talks to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.


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