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School leaders warn that some Local Authorities could break the law in panic over industrial action

School leaders’ union NAHT Cymru today warns that some Local Authorities in Wales have indicated that they could illegally deduct the pay of non-striking workers in response to the lawful action of school leaders.

NAHT Cymru begins Action Short of Strike tomorrow (Weds 1 Feb) as the first step in its dispute with Local Authorities over pay and funding.

This action will include school leaders not providing information to the LA regarding which of their staff have taken strike action.

NAHT Cymru has clearly informed the LAs in good time that they will be taking this action, but many are only just realising the consequences and have threatened to deduct all staffs’ wages.

Responding to these threats, Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “This demonstrates the completely amateur approach of Local Authorities that lies at the heart of the education dispute.

“Any proposal to illegally deduct wages from dedicated working people because they simply no longer know how to deal with trade unions positively is not just illegal, it is reckless.”

Mr Whiteman went on to say that he was confident that all unions would pursue the Local Authorities through the courts to restore workers’ money if necessary, leading to a waste of time, effort and expenditure, all because of incompetence at a Local Government level.

It has further emerged that workers falling ill on the strike day are being required by some LAs to visit a doctor and obtain a fit note in contravention of all sickness policies.

Paul Whiteman said: “I cannot believe that LAs are so desperate to undermine legitimate industrial action that they would target the sick and place a further intolerable burden upon the NHS service."

Speaking on the wider issues between the employers and the union, Laura Doel, Director of NAHT Cymru, added: “What is really happening here is an attempt to undermine our legitimate lawful action.

“Guidance issued by some LAs directly contradicts our action and is being used in some cases to intimidate our members.

“As a union we have jumped through the hoops of the UK Government’s anti-trade union legislation to afford our members the protection to take action.

“Our action seeks to frustrate the education system while protecting the learners and continuing to provide education to children and young people. By very definition our action will seek to frustrate the administrative system, but that’s the nature of industrial action.

“To see administrations who pride themselves in supporting workers’ right to take action respond in this way is a disgrace. Some actions go against the very principles and trade union roots those officials and elected members were put in place to preserve and protect.”

First published 31 January 2023