Today the Assembly debated the amendments and motion on the Classroom Assistants strike called by NIPSA. In the meantime the Education Minister has released the statement she read out to the Assembly this morning which states – “I am now calling on the employing authorities to proceed as swiftly as possible to implement the new gradings so that these valuable staff receive the pay rates to which they are entitled as a result of the systematic job evaluation process which has been carried out.” The statement presents the move as being beneficial to the classroom assistants but, as the PUP’s Dawn Purvis pointed out in this morning’s debate, it appears to be a call for the implementation of the offer the minister approved earlier this year.. the same one the unions have already rejected. That would place the unions in a weak position in the parallel negotiations which are also referred to. And as noted previously, Sinn Féin’s officially designated spokesman on Education is still backing the classroom assistants’ demands… Adds from the BBC report Update on the BBC report below the fold
One of the unions involved, Nipsa, said until there was a revised offer acceptable to classroom assistants, Wednesday’s strike would go-ahead. Another three-day strike is planned for October.
Update On this story hereThe BBC report now quotes a NIPSA representative
Assistant Secretary Alison Millar said Ms Ruane had not said “anything of substance about how this dispute can be resolved”.
“Unfortunately, the minister is calling for the immediate implementation of proposals which are the cause of this dispute – for the minister to press for their implementation only compounds the problem further,” she said.
Further Update With the BBC report re-edited, and the NIPSA quote replaced by a UNISON quote, here’s today’s Belfast Telegraph report
Brian Booth, NIPSA branch secretary and classroom workers strike committee member, said: “By doing what she has done she has sharpened the issue. She has brought about a situation where there will no doubt be conflict between the members, Education Boards and her Department.
“We are absolutely disgusted with her attitude. Caitriona Ruane’s statement is rhetoric without real meaning. She is going to implement what every classroom assistant across Northern Ireland rejected in June.”