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Criticism as jobs set to be axed at Black Country academy trust

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Education | Published:

An academy trust's plan to axe caretaker and maintenance roles has been criticised by union bosses.

The George Salter Academy is among the schools run by Ormiston

A number of roles are under threat at Ormiston Academies Trust, which runs seven secondary schools in the Black Country, as part of a restructuring programme.

IT jobs are also under threat with staff set to learn their fate by Christmas.

Unison has hit out at the trust and says the loss of caretakers and maintenance workers could put the safety of pupils and staff at risk.

The claims have been dismissed as "irresponsible" by bosses of the academy chain. Under its plan, roles could be lost or relocated. The number of potential redundancies has not been confirmed.

Unison said it would result in a "slimmed-down" maintenance workforce across Ormiston sites and insisted not enough time had been given for a consultation.

The threatened workers are responsible for conducting fire safety checks and ensuring fire alarms and escape routes are up to scratch. They also carry out regular building checks.

Ormiston runs George Salter Academy in West Bromwich, Sandwell Community Academy in Tividale, Forge Academy in Cradley Heath, Wodensborough Academy in Wednesbury, Shelfield Community Academy in Pelsall, Walsall, SWB Academy in Bilston and the NEW Academy in Fordhouses, Wolverhampton.

Unison West Midlands regional secretary Ravi Subramanian said: “Employees crucial to the smooth running of schools are being pushed out of their jobs so a trust, which paid its chief executive £184,160 in 2018, can save on the salaries of caretakers, maintenance workers and ICT staff.

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“Time and time again we’ve seen large organisations impose cost-cutting measures that sound good in the boardroom, but in the real world lead to poorer services, low morale, unemployment and, in this case, safety risks.

“Ormiston must halt its plans now and set aside a more realistic amount of time to consult with unions about a plan that affects many workers, pupils and parents across the West Midlands. That’s the very least it can do.”

An Ormiston spokeswoman said: "As a financially responsible charity, which is absolutely committed to serving its pupils, we have opened a consultation on the current staffing and operational structures so that they are as efficient as possible.

“The process to date has of course included provision for the most robust health and safety standards going forward – nothing is more important than ensuring health and safety is of the highest standard, and that will remain the case. It is irresponsible and entirely wrong to even suggest we would compromise on this.

“No decisions on the future structure have been made because we are still in a consultation period with our staff and trade unions."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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