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Parents still chased over unpaid school fees during 2019 strikes

Parents still chased over unpaid school fees during 2019 strikes

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Parents still chased over unpaid school fees during 2019 strikes

Wednesday 25 January 2023


The island’s Treasury Department is still pursuing parents for refusing to pay their children’s school fees during teacher strikes nearly four years ago, it has emerged, as industrial action looms again.

Officials confirmed to Express that claims against nine individuals were still being pursued, totalling £5,869.14.

The fees are spread across four schools.

The bulk of the strikes took place in May 2019, with members of the National Education Union walking out for eight days over a pay offer that teachers claimed would result in a real-terms pay cut of 3.5%.

Numerous schools had to cut back on classes or close as a result.

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Pictured: Teachers' strikes led to a number of schools being closed in 2019.

Some parents and guardians at affected schools said they should be entitled to compensation for the days of school their children had to miss as a result.

It was also argued by some that islanders with children at fee-paying schools should not have to pay the entire termly fee.

In June 2019, they were threatened with legal action from the Education Department.

In a letter, the then-Director General Mark Rogers told parents and carers that the government will not be offering "financial compensation" for the impact of teachers' recent industrial action on them, whether for additional childcare costs, loss of earnings or holidays, or with regards to rebates in respect of school fees at fee-paying schools.

He further warned that anyone who didn't pay the full set of school fees could face action from the Treasury to recover the debt "in the same manner as an overdue account due to non-payment."

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Pictured: The letter sent by the Education Department.

News that some parents are still being chased comes as a new pay dispute threatens to lead to industrial action.

The Government has offered a below-inflation rise of 7.9% - the same as accepted by the civil service pay group and the States of Jersey Police - to school workers.

Both NASUWT and the National Education Union (NEU) are seeking an increase that reflects the latest RPI figure of 10.4% and compensates them for the erosion in wages seen in recent years.

NEU Jersey President Mark Oliver said a "significant majority" of union members responding to an informal survey indicated that they were unwilling to accept the latest offer.

He said school strikes could not be ruled out.

"Over the past 12 years teachers have had pay rises above the retail price index two or three times, but otherwise inflation has eroded wages, which have fallen by between 13% and 23% in real terms across that period, depending on which measure is used," he said.

NASUWT members have called for a 15.4% rise.

Representative Marina Mauger said a survey was going out to members in order to gauge the strength of feeling, and that this could then lead to a formal ballot about further action.

"Industrial action isn't something that we have considered at this point, until we have heard back from members," she said.

Talks with Jersey's government are continuing amid a backdrop of already staged strikes in Scotland, while counterparts in England and Wales have announced seven days of strikes during February and March.

In Guernsey, the body responsible for negotiating on behalf of teachers and lecturers has been trying unsuccessfully to initiate further talks with the States.

National negotiating official Wayne Bates told Bailiwick Express Guernsey: "The current situation is that the States [of Guernsey] refused to discuss pay with us through the industrial disputes officer process, so we are currently consulting with members over possible next steps, which could include some form of industrial action."

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