By Joshua Robinson –
Kirklees Council educational psychologists vote for industrial action in a dispute over pay and workforce crisis.
Members of the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) in England and Wales have voted decisively in favour of taking industrial action. Voting took place in each local authority area, with 58.33% of Educational Psychologists in Kirklees Council voting in favour.
All members working for local authorities paid on Soulbury scales in England and Wales were sent a postal ballot. Members in 86.6% per cent of local authorities met the participation threshold for the ballot and voted in favour of industrial action.
The Unions’ Executive recommended that members should vote Yes to action, saying that the pay offer, amounting to an average of a 3% pay rise for many educational psychologists, amounts to a ‘real terms cut’ at a time when inflation is running at 11.4%. The decline in pay and conditions has led to a recruitment and retention crisis, causing spiralling workloads, leading to long wait times for children, young people and families who need support.
Key Ballot Results:
- 70% turnout overall across all local authorities
- 86% voting YES to action
- 86.6% of local authorities where the required participation threshold (>50%) was met
- 136 out of the 157 local authorities balloted met the threshold and voted Yes
The Union’s executive met on the 11th September to discuss plans for industrial action. However, the employers side also sent a revised and improved pay offer, which the AEP and its members will now consider before deciding next steps.
Dr Cath Lowther, General Secretary of AEP, said: “Our members have said loud and clear that our children deserve to see an educational psychologist when they need to. They have turned out in significant numbers to vote yes to industrial action and to save local authority educational psychology services.”
“It is clear that our campaign and the strength of feeling from our members, which has been reflected in the strike ballot, has been heard by the employers and we welcome the revised pay offer which we have just received. We will consider this offer before deciding on our next steps.”
“Every year, tens of thousands of children and young people and their families are helped by an educational psychologist (EP). Despite the vital services and support provided by EPs, local authorities have not invested in the profession and now face widespread recruitment and retention problems. The resulting rise in EP workloads means that children and young people are waiting far too long to be seen by an EP – or worse, don’t get to see an EP at all. We need local authorities to stem the workforce exodus and make sure our children have access to the specialist support that EPs offer, when they need it.”