Wednesday 11 June 2014

A Victory over Maternity Cuts in Lewisham

No need for a full Lobby in the end - but some couldn't resist a small celebration!

At the conclusion of negotiations this afternoon, I was very pleased to be able to post the following report on the Lewisham NUT website:

 Lewisham NUT are pleased to confirm that, following discussions between Unions and Council Officers at the Corporate Joint Committee this afternoon, the proposal to cut the number of weeks of contractual pay from 20 half-weeks to 12 half-weeks has been withdrawn.

I am pleased to say that, having checked the comparative data compiled by the NUT, Officers have recognised that their proposal would have made Lewisham’s provisions considerably inferior to those applying in most other Inner London boroughs. Today’s decision means that the existing contractual provisions will remain in place, namely, for those with sufficient qualifying service, 6 weeks at 90% of pay and 20 weeks at 50% (plus SMP). 

While teachers will now be aware as a result of the NUT’s analysis that some other boroughs have greater contractual pay totals, the NUT is pleased that Lewisham’s continuing provisions will now remain better than the national ‘Burgundy Book’ provisions applying in some Outer London boroughs.

The only change that will be made is that the maximum 52 weeks of maternity leave that can be taken overall will now commence at the start of maternity leave, rather than on the date of childbirth. This brings Lewisham in line with practice in most other boroughs. However, notice will be given before this change is applied, and will not be introduced until September at the earliest, possibly January.

The outcome of these negotiations will be a relief to the many teachers who had worried about the financial impact of the original proposals. It is only a pity that Officers had not recognised at an earlier stage what the NUT had been stating: firstly, how Lewisham would have looked in comparison with other boroughs and, secondly, how strongly teachers and other staff were opposed to the proposed change.

Council Officers have alerted unions that they believe that other London Councils may be looking to change their provisions in future, and that national changes to legislation may require provisions to be looked at again in future. If so, then, firstly, those other councils will also quickly come to recognise that cuts to maternity pay will not be accepted by the NUT and other trade unions. If national legislation requires changes then, again, that will be an issue that the NUT will consider at the time. However, we will remain clear that cuts to maternity provisions are cuts that the NUT will not be prepared to accept.

Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT  
June 11th 2014.

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