Working with the Unions
It is really important to us that all our staff are treated well, happy and in a position where they can grow and thrive - no matter what their role is. With this at the core of what we do, as part of a number of methods we use to listen to our employees we work closely with teaching and support staff unions throughout the year to ensure that our staff are heard, and that we respond.
Teaching and support staff unions and OCL work together to face the coronavirus pandemic
Trade unions and multi-academy trust Oasis Community Learning (Oasis) have published a case study today to share how they worked together for the benefit of all staff when faced by the challenges caused by coronavirus.
Teaching and support staff unions NASUWT, Unison, GMB, ASCL, NEU, Unite, Community and NAHT, in collaboration with Oasis, have written the case study to share how they worked together since the onset of the pandemic in a way that has been mutually beneficial and meaningful.
The case study explains step by step the actions taken by OCL, in consultation with the unions, to support staff before, during and after the disruption caused by Covid-19. This includes changes to absence, sick pay, dependant’s leave, flexible leave, and pay. Also commended is the work achieved around the approach to health and safety risk management during the reopening of schools after national lockdowns.
Oasis’s Director of People, Culture and Organisation Development, Paul Tarry, says: “The pandemic posed challenges many of us never contemplated having to face in our careers. Looking back at that time of disruption, the working relationship and collaboration we had with our Trade Union partners had never been so important, and I am proud of what was achieved for everyone who works at Oasis.”
“We welcome this case study as a reminder of how we can work together for the benefit of everyone involved.”
Joint Recognised Union Statements
- Working through the pandemic - April 2020
- The use of face coverings at work
- Cleaning and hygiene at work
We're really pleased to share with you a piece that was published in the National Education Union Winter 2020 edition, written by Rob Owen (Science Teacher and NEU Lead Rep for Oasis)
Our work has marked a big step forwards for building a staff voice within Oasis.
Before lockdown hit, we had reached a national agreement with Oasis in the event schools closed. After discussions Oasis national agreed to guidance over flexible homeworking for those with families; suspension of performance related pay; and that they would honour all temporary agency contracts until their original end date on full pay.
Once schools were locked down, we held weekly meetings between NEU reps in schools and nationally with Oasis. The process shaped the national approach of Oasis: attempting to balance providing a vital service to our communities while considering the difficulties of working from home.
The experience of the close working relationship during lockdown means Oasis have now committed to continuing regular national discussions - initially working on health and safety (H&S), work load and pay amongst other issues.
At most Oasis schools, we now have established local reps who meet regularly with head teachers to discuss the way forwards. All our reps sit on school H&S committees to represent the voice of all staff as we experience 'schooling during the pandemic' for the first time. As a network we negotiated half a day's release per week for our reps to carry out this work.
Triggered by the lockdown and the need to consult with members over such pressing issues as distance learning and what a future partial reopening of schools might look like, we held two all-member meetings in Oasis. The first in April was attended by 90 members from 33 academies, this more than doubled to 240 members at our second meeting in May.
These all-member meetings have been a great way of reaching out and engaging members in the work of the reps' group within the chain. Seeing so many members come together gives school reps a real sense of our collective strength. Such meetings present a model for how members can organise within a national academy chain, despite the geographical barriers to traditional organising created by the fragmentation of the education system into numerous multi-academy trusts.