Classroom assistants ballot on strike action

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the Northern Ireland Executive Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, could be heading for a confrontation with Nipsa who are balloting their members on strike action after talks broke down on a new pay deal for classroom assistants. [pdf file] The Minister had approved an offer from the Education Boards on 31 May, but Nipsa members rejected that offer in June and despite further meetings between the two sides no new offer has been made.From the Nipsa statement [pdf file]


Following the 14 consultation meetings held by NIPSA towards the end of June Classroom Assistants clearly indicated to NIPSA that unless there were significant improvements in the offer they wished to be balloted on strike action commencing as early as possible in the Autumn Term. NIPSA’s Education and Library Board Panel and Classroom Assistant Representatives met last week and agreed to commence the statutory balloting process. This process commenced last Friday with the issuing of statutory notices to the 5 Education & Library Boards. The ballot for Classroom Assistants will commence on Monday 20th August 2007 and close at 12.00 noon on Monday 10th September 2007.

Please ensure you cast your vote and VOTE YES for strike action.

The Education & Library Board Panel carefully considered the views of members and has confirmed that the strike action intended will be a rolling programme of action – moving to ALL OUT STRIKE.

The Management Side of the 5 Education & Library Boards can avert this action by putting a realistic, acceptable and fair offer to NIPSA. If an improved offer is secured then this will be communicated to members immediately.

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  • This would be the same Catriona Ruane who says that an Irish Language Act should be above cost considerations.

    Maybe the classroom assistants should learn Irish.

  • Pete Baker

    Or maybe those particular cost considerations should be re-assigned to the Education budget..

  • Turgon

    How much are classroom assistants payed? It is prretty woeful isn’t it?

  • Elvis Parker

    Its a cunning SF plot. As the Brits couldnt be trusted to oppress the working classes enough SF are going to do it instead! In time class room assistants will realise it is all the Brits fault, learn Irish and indoctrinate the Prods kids – brillant!

  • Rory

    What is heartening about this report is the news that classroom assistants in Northern Ireland are sufficiently strongly unionised that they can feel confident to call for an all out withdrawal of labour.

    In England this is sadly not he case. Here in many areas outside the inner city so many of the teaching staff are women married to high earners for whom the salaried teaching position is seen as an addition to an already good level of income and status and security is primary to the education of the children. They inevitably are antipathetic to the NUT and unsympathetic to the the wage levels of their often extremely capable classroom assistants and disparaging of their skills and certainly do not promote union membership which might encourage their more capable helpers to develop a sense of dignity and self worth that threatens the better paid time-servers.

    I wish the NI teaching assistants well in their demands and while I hope that total labour withdrawal is not forced upon them, if it is I shall watch it with interest and, of course, encouragement.

  • Harry Flashman

    Can someone explain to me what a classroom assistant does?

    In my days at school there was a teacher (a man) who had thirty three pupils sitting at desks lined up in neat rows facing him while he taught a wide range of topics from English, Religion and Maths through to basic science with a little bit of beginner’s French to have us ready for when we went up to the ‘big school’.

    He also arranged school trips, Christmas plays and PE.

    There was not a classroom assistant to be seen, we all got a fantastic education in what was a fairly non-descript primary school in a mainly working class Catholic area of Derry in the middle of a low-level urban guerilla war (during which several neighbours and family members of some of my fellow pupils were murdered).

    I ask again, what does a classroom assistant do and how come we didn’t need them back then?

  • Animus

    All of you got a fantastic education Harry? None of you had trouble with reading or numeracy? Let me know where this school is; I want to send my kid there when the time comes!

    More to the point, classroom assistants often do work that would have been carried out by admin staff, as well as helping out with reading and basic tasks. And I don’t know how old you are Harry, but I daresay the curriculum and lesson-planning requirements were slightly more lax when you were in school.

  • I have more or less given up on Slugger now apart from the very odd comment. The decisive factor has been that some of those responsible for leading threads almost immediately turn their own threads into sectarian debates of the most basic kind. (as typified by the initial 2 posts here from Malachi and Pete Baker).

    ie Before anyone gets the chance to discuss the supposed topic of the thread (the pay dispute between a government minister and NIPSA), we are led down the usual sectarian path into the pros and cons of Irish language funding.


    If you wanted to discuss Irish language funding, why not just start a thread on it rather than using this as a divert?

    Slugger has so many threads like this now that it has become mostly just a basic sectarian and tribal debate on even the most innofensive of threads. When such debates are actually instigated by some of the people starting the actual threads then there really is no hope. It also means that Slugger is totally out of step with the real feelgood factor which now exists here. I work in a large office in Belfast City Centre and have never known less animosity or such good feeling between different backgrounds. Slugger now comes across a narrow minded little site mostly for the really small majority of dregs and backward types who havent moved on.

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes I am fairly certain no one in my class left school illiterate or innumerate, which according to recent reports seems to be an increasing trend among the victims of today’s less lax lesson-plannings.

    I suspect that the reason the teachers need lesson-planning and classroom assistance is that they themselves are barely educated wee cuddies who have graduated from the doctrinally challenged teaching colleges with no notion of educational instruction other than the sociology theories which passes for teacher training these days.

    Perhaps if they returned to traditional teaching methods, you know the ones we used to have before left wingers with an agenda took over the education service, then the wee’uns might actually be able to read and write by the time they leave school.

    I’m 40.

  • Animus

    Considering the highest rates of illiteracy in Northern Ireland are among those 45+, you’re in the wrong here. Illiteracy is still unacceptably high, but it is by no means a recent problem.

    You may have your prejudices against the left-wingers (I’m sure many civil servants would laugh their socks off at this assertion) but it simply doesn’t bear out.

  • jpeters


    you said it better than i could have, your absolutely right about the direction slugger is going. It has little relevance to day to day NI.

    you only have to say something vaguely middle of the road or rational for one of two things to happen

    1. your post is ignored because it got in the way of the same old rehashed arguments

    2. the usual suspects (i wont name names i know the rules)quietly withdraw so they can unleash their venom somewhere else

    Fair play to the teaching assistants for having the good sense to unionize themselves and stand up for themselves, they in my experience carry out a valuable but often thankless role in the class room especially for those who could be easily left behind, they deserve proper financial recognition.

  • J Peters,

    Thanks for your comments although I would state that I certainly would not class myself in any way as middle of the road in terms of my political viewpoints. I am a Republican, but my point was more to do with the tone and sectarian nature of topics which appear here.

    Some of our bloggers seem to make a habit of bringing every thread down to the lowest common denominator. [Play the ball – edited moderator]

    With regard to the actual topic, I think that classroom assistants have been greatly under-valued for many years and i hope that NIPSA pursue a succesful campaign on their behalf.

  • Pete Baker


    If you read the comments you’ve complained about again you’ll see that the focus is on the Minister’s disregard for the cost considerations on that issue.. and whose budget would be affected.

    That’s relevant to the actual topic here and not, as you claim, sectarian.

    And far from diverting the discussion the subsequent comments, until yours, show the opposite.


    “It has little relevance to day to day NI.”

    I seem to recall you stating this before.. back in February/March wasn’t it? You’re still here though..

    Same answer as then.

    We’ll stand or fall on the daily contributions of our bloggers and commenters, thanks.

  • jpeters


    Dont think i was contributing in Feb/March, im sporadic at the best of times, but i will stand corrected if you can show me

    yes indeed we will stand and fall on the daily contributions, however my emphasis is more on quality than quantity, the same themes and points can be made on the most popular threads here ad nausaum by a rather shallow pool of bloggers. The two main cadres here seem to have the capacity to do this indefinitely.

    I admit i read on and occasionally contribute, this is more in hope than anything, there used to be some good debates here but i dont recall the bloggers here ever being so stuck in a rut. Its still possible to extract the odd nugget but i can see were Mac is coming from.

    I have my own strongly held political opinions and this thread would have perhaps have given me the chance to air them (we could have had a striaght up left right political debate – imagine!)but i think the debate has been driven of course in to the old barren ground already

  • DK

    As far as I can tell it is jpeters and macswiney who have driven this thread to the ground. Before them there was only the jokey contribution of Elvis Parker that could be called sectarian. There was the start of a decent left-right debate between Harry and Animus before the intervention of jpeters and macsweney.

    The site is better without morons coming on and compaining about how it was so much better in “the good old days”

  • jpeters


    This is as good a thread as any to put forward the opinions i did above and i was simply agreeing with a point made by Mac which struck a chord with me, however you have put me back in my box by calling me a moron

    I think this is a debate that intellectually sluggerites have to have but.

    I did try a participate in the debate by the way if you had of read down