Nurseries across North Lanarkshire could close over ‘fire and rehire’ plans, says UNISON  

Early years workers in North Lanarkshire will begin voting today (Monday) on whether to strike over the council’s ‘fire and rehire’ plans which would leave workers thousands of pounds worse off.

The council is proposing to make early years practitioners (grade 9) redundant, then re-employ them on a lower wage (grade 7). That means full-time staff could see a pay cut of up to £6,500, says UNISON. The proposals would affect 375 workers.

UNISON’s consultative ballot in April saw an overwhelming majority (96.9%) voting to reject the plans to downgrade their posts with more than 9 in 10 (91%) voting in favour of industrial action.

Marie Quiqley, UNISON North Lanarkshire branch secretary, said: “Strike action is always the last resort but early years practitioners have made it very clear that they will do what it takes to have these plans scrapped.

“These are the workers who nurture young children and prepare them for school, identifying their needs and ensuring they are met.

“Demands on early years practitioners are increasing because they’re seeing more children with increased educational needs, as a result of being unable to socialise during the pandemic.

“And at a time when it’s harder than ever to make ends meet, these mostly women workers are being asked to do the same work for considerably less.

“The council needs to put an immediate end to these plans and start prioritising children, and the workforce our young people rely upon.”

Audrey Malloy, UNISON regional organiser, said: “This is real people and real families who are being affected by these outrageous proposals.

“North Lanarkshire Council say they can’t afford it, instead they should be asking if they can afford not to. They are jeopardising children’s entire education if they don’t ensure young people are properly supported from the very start. The attainment gap will grow and children and their families will suffer.

“Our early years practitioners don’t want to be on a picket line, they want to be in nurseries working with children, but the council is leaving them very little choice. The whole community has been rallying in support of the workforce, it’s high time the council realised their value too.”

Tracey Dalling, UNISON Scottish Secretary, said: “To fire and re-hire workers is not only an outright scandal, it’s completely against both Labour and Scottish government policy.

“Councils across Scotland are feeling the funding squeeze, but slashing workers’ pay and putting the future of young people at risk is not the way forward.

“UNISON is right behind our early years practitioners, and we will continue to fight these proposals every step of the way.”


  1. UNISON’s formal strike ballot will run from Monday, June 5 until 10am on Monday, 26 June.
  2. UNISON is the union for early years workers and is Scotland’s biggest public service union.
  3. UNISON’s full consultation result: Do you reject North Lanarkshire Council’s plan to downgrade early learning practitioner jobs? Yes 96.09%, No 3.19%Would you support industrial action to oppose the plan to downgrade Early Learning Practitioner jobs? Yes, 91.14%, No 8.86%
  4. Link to 5000 signature petition:
  5. Film of March 30 demonstration in Motherwell: 

For more information contact: 

  1. Marie Quigley, North Lanarkshire branch secretary: 07810 698274
  2. Audrey Malloy, regional organiser, 07946 555 186
  3. Danny Phillips, communications officer, 07717 715277 / 07944 664110