“insist on a large dose of realism”

The classroom assistants’ strike went ahead today, despite the reports of an upbeat end to last minute talks held yesterday. That an all-out strike the week after. And, if the Education Minister has painted herself into a corner – and calling for the implementation of an offer already rejected didn’t help – the Belfast Telegraph points out that only the Education Minister can change that [with the Finance Minister’s help? – Ed]

Ms Ruane has called on the education boards to implement the new gradings, so that these “valuable staff receive the pay rates to which they are entitled”, following the job evaluation process. But these are empty words, unless there is agreement on the fairness of the new gradings, and more money is available to the boards.

As Sammy Wilson, chairman of the Assembly’s education committee has said, the boards’ hands are tied, without extra funding, and no one is clear about the cost of the classroom assistants’ package, since there are so many variables. The minister’s problems are obvious, when money is tight, but the public will not accept more delay in settling a 12-year dispute that is affecting morale in many schools – and is upsetting parents who so depend on the assistants for help with their special needs children.

The time has come for Mrs Ruane to call all the parties together and insist on a large dose of realism, from all concerned. Classroom assistants may be in a special category, but all non-teaching staff pay rates should be placed on scales fixed nationally. As holder of the purse strings, Finance Minister Peter Robinson must be involved, sooner rather than later.

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  • I hope things get sorted out soon. 3 days next week and a whole week after that is a bit harsh. I feel if they do that they could lose support.

  • Pounder

    Frankly it’s a disgrace that this is happening the way it is. Ruane and Wilson are have a political pissing contest and mean while hard working class room assistants are made to suffer for their inability to conduct the day to day business in a civil matter.

    I believe that in the recent debate MLA Naomi Long asked why Sammy Wilson was using this as a stick to poke a sleeping dog with, Wilsons reply was that he wasn’t poking with a stick he was beating the dog over the head with it. I hope the electorate with children remember this next time Ruane or Wilson turn up on their door asking for their vote.

  • Pete Baker

    Pounder, that comment was made in a recent debate. But it wasn’t on this topic.

  • Pounder

    True but it says a lot about the mentality of the main players in this mess.

  • nmc

    I feel that 12k (a top end salary according to a caller on the Stevie Nolan show) is a joke, disgrace, travesty. Jesus I wouldn’t even think of getting out of bed for it, it strikes me that those “servers” at the top of their game in McDonalds are getting more money.

    I also agree with the sentiments above, the main players are proving ineffective at politics. Actual bread and butter stuff. The issue has been allowed to develop to this point and in the mean time our politicians are too busy point scoring and twisting the debate to their own ends. I’m totally disgusted at the way this has been dealt with, not because of strong feelings for the plight of teaching assistants, but because of our politicians being cack-handedly incredibly shit at their jobs.

  • patrique

    It was great to see, a really good turn out, supported all the way by passing motorists and timid civil servants waving from office buildings.

    And I must congratulate NIPSA for their part in this, a great, well organised day.

    And Daisy, as a supporter of slavery, abolished years ago, does this action frighten you?