“wholly failing to address the key issues that caused this dispute”

It seems that Chris was being somewhat premature.. The BBC are reporting that, as well as the immediate additional cost of the new offer to classroom assistants coming in at £15million, NIPSA members have rejected the offer [pdf file] and this week’s three-day strike will go ahead.From the NIPSA statement [pdf file]

NIPSA’s negotiator Alison Millar said;-

“NIPSA’s elected representatives of Classroom Assistants unanimously rejected the employers’ offer tabled on Friday as wholly failing to address the key issues that caused this dispute. The 3 days strike action starting tomorrow must therefore go ahead as planned. We will be consulting urgently and fully with all Classroom Assistants to prepare for the all out strike from next Monday, 8 October if the employers continue to fail to address the key issues in dispute.”

NIPSA’s General Secretary John Corey added:-

“NIPSA represents over 3,000 Classroom Assistants and our members have made very clear their determination to take strike action until the employers come up with proposals that address the key issues causing the dispute. They have the full backing of NIPSA.”

Adds additional report

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  • IJP

    A mistake by NIPSA.

    The assistants have public sympathy. But that’ll wear thin after another three days’ picking their children up early.

  • MacAedha

    As a classroom assistant, working in a class of 29 P1’s practisng the new revised curriculum. This in theory gives children a choice to play with whatever they want, move freely around the classroom and use practical activities to learn.
    It would be impossible for a teacher to carry this out alone therefore, the assistance from another WELL QUALIFIED adult in the room is of the utmost importance.
    Classroom assistants are passionate about the job they do and do not take strike action lightly, but when it comes to losing approx 70p an hour from an already low wage and losing recognition for a qualification they worked very hard and paid out of their own pockets to obtain of course they wont take it lying down.
    Do you think teachers unions would tolerate this for their members? Not on your nelly!!!

  • Bumper

    Classroom assistants?-Aren’t they glorified babysitters?

    Public support will erode very quickly indeed following this short-sighted action by NIPSA.

  • MacAedha

    ‘Glorified Babysitters’? Have you ever been in a classroom other than when you went to school and that was very obviously a right few decades ago!
    As I said classroom assistants are QUALIFIED members of a school staff. The board have cut back on help for children who need a little extra help with learning and this is one area that the classroom assistant is an invaluable member of a team of educators.

  • Bumper

    Obviously hit a raw nerve there, Mac. It was quite evident from their demeanour leaving Friday’s negotiations that the unions were happy with the revised offer. The fact that NIPSA has now broken ranks with the other Unions is a fatal mistake that will lead to a collapse in support from the public.An OG of stupendous proportions..-On the bright side it will at least give your lot a few days off from the glorified baby-sitting…

  • MacAedha

    Oh boy you’re a funny sort, but obviously have no children. Come back and talk some sense when you have seen classroom assistants at work.

  • bumper

    Why the need for personal abuse, Mac? I have seen and read plenty of coverage of the main duties of the Post. I maintain that your Unions are gambling on exaggeration and maudlin sentimentality in order to deflect public attention away from the unreasonable refusal of the revised pay offer-a losing gamble, I might add.

  • patrique

    A sensible tactic. After TWELVE years, when we could blame English ministers, our own assembly cannot see that asking people to work in a classroom for a pittance is an insult to the workers of N.Ireland.

    If parents resent picking up their own children, would they not be best served by joining the picket lines to put pressure on those responsible for the strike? Given the difficult route that has to be taken to call a strike, it is obvious to all and sundry that something is wrong. That something is that we are asking vital workers to work for a pittance, a years wage which would not pay a mortgage, before anything else is taken into consideration.

    And MacAedha, ignore “Bumper”. [Play the ball – edited moderator]

    I have often criticised the NIPSA leadership, but this time they have stood firm, and are backing the courageous classroom assistants.We need to show the assembly that we are the biggest union in N.Ireland, and that we have influence and power.

    And after the actions of GMB and Unison, I imagine NIPSA will be getting bigger.

  • bumper

    your personal invective towards me underlines the paucity of your argument-the fact is the stupid solo run by NIPSA in sanctioning this strike has undermined the position of the other unions and will decimate public sympathy for the cause of the Classroom Assistants at a stroke.

    The employers will be rolling in the aisles at NIPSA hitting the self-destruct button and doing their job for them.-nice work, comrades.

    By the way, heartfelt apologies for comparing Classroom Assistants to Baby-sitters-no offence was intended to babysitters by this comparison.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    To all,

    There’s a substantial topic here that could do with being discussed with civility.

    Be blunt by all means, but play the ball!

  • Sean Og

    Can someone involved in this please explain the stumbling block for me?
    I was one of those who thought Minister Catriona Ruane had sorted this out last week. Clearly it’s not sorted. Why?

  • Concerned

    NIPSA’s education panel, duly elected representatives of the Classroom Assistants, decided that the offer should be rejected. Further consultations with Classroom Assistants will follow.

    The deal on the table has one major flaw, It is simply not enough.
    Special Needs allowances equate to £1,000 per year. Not really much of a deal to give you £2,500 in place of a career length entitlement.

    Nor does it make financial sense to accept that you hourly rate will be based on a 36 Hour working week, instead of the current 32.5 (the length of the school week and where Classroom Assistants work).

    Regrettably my own union, GMB, has shown complete cowardice in this dispute. Opportunism of the worst kind.

  • patrique

    How are NIPSA undermining the other unions? What thought process leads to that conclusion?

    Given that Labour disputes are regulated by harsh anti-union laws, it is the democratic union that asks the membership, via a ballot, as to what the MEMBERS want done. Not what the leadership want done. NIPSA did this. The large majority, 93% voted for strike action. NIPSA stood by the decision of the classroom assistants, not the decision of paid union officials which is what the other unions have done.

    Why did Unison refuse to hold a ballot at the last moment? Were they afraid that the classroom assistants, the ones that matter here, would have supported the strike?

    So it would appear that NIPSA were setting the pace, and the other unions let them down.

    As for “doing the employers job”. Employer’s do not like strikes, because due to the fact that employers earn more than employees, they have more to lose.

    As for the “paucity” of the argument. Answer one question, “How can a single person live on £12,ooo gross per annum?”

    Where would they live, as they couldn’t afford a mortgage or rent. Much more of this and we will soon look like Washington DC, with Cardboard box “skyscrapers”, one box on top of the other, to house the workers.

    And finally, when someone condones the raping and killing of school teachers, it is difficult to maintain ones decorum.

  • Glen Taisie

    Caitriona Ruane
    “Building an Ireland of Equals or building a classroom of unequals ?”


  • patrique

    I did not ask How a married person could survive on £12,000 gross, because the answer would have been, both parents should work. And when the gutter press and TV highlights dysfunctional teenagers, we can all join with Bumper in condemning working mothers and the schools. That should keep us smug enough.

    I am sorry to labour this, but why do the workers’ always get the blame for strikes. If the classroom assistants were being paid a minimum wage of £25,000 does anyone think there would be a strike?

    Answers on a postcard please.

  • MacAedha

    ‘Can someone involved in this please explain the stumbling block for me?
    I was one of those who thought Minister Catriona Ruane had sorted this out last week. Clearly it’s not sorted. Why?’
    The minister for education told civil servants to SORT THE MATTER OUT they proposed an offer of a ‘one off payment’ to buy off classroom assistants rights to their job evaluations being calculated on a 32.5 hr week, as is their present working week, in line with other classroom workers, and proposed instead to calculate on a 36 hr week.
    This will result, as pointed out above, in the loss of c70p per hour in income to already lowly paid workers.
    As the last education workers to have their jobs evaluated no condition attaching to calculating their working hours was imposed by the empolyers.
    The stumbling block is mostly the hard earned qualifications, necessary to obtain the post are being ignored in the job evaluation which devalues the role and function of classroom assistants; would any other public or civil servant agree to this type of cut being imposed on them?

  • Ruth

    I was in Belfast when they did their march. I was horrified to see that they were using their children as emotional blackmail! Yes i agree that they are an inportant part to our childrens schooling, and yes i agree that the proposed plans were wrong but they lost all sympathy from me when they decided to parade their children in the middle of Belfast with banners saying ‘save the children’


  • patrique

    So when the government come on TV crying about the poor children being disrupted by the strike, you will be horrified and lose all sympathy for them, is that right, Ruth?

    And the banners saying “Save the Children” means the school children, the children who will suffer when the only people willing to work as assistants for a pittance will be those on the sex offenders list.

    This is about the right to a fair wage, and the right for our children to be educated in a safe environment, and an improvement in education.

    And judging by some of the postings throughout “Slugger” an improvement is long overdue.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I was genuinely surprised when I heard late this afternoon that the strike was to proceed as, and I think I’m far from alone in this regard, the mood music from the Union leaderships late last week was positive.

    Personally, I respect the right of NIPSA to take this action, though I do believe it is a wrong move and one unlikely to bring further significant concessions the way of the Assistants. There was/ is clearly a disagreement between the Unions over how to proceed last week, and this offer will only have exacerbated the division, though naturally the leaderships will have closed ranks in the aftermath of the distasteful public spat between GMB and NIPSA.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Classroom assistants work very hard and their treatment over the last 12 years has been an absolute disgrace. The minister’s response to this issue has been totally inadequate, she should resign if she can’t get this sorted out. Miss Ruane, welcome to real politics.

  • kensei

    Open to the complaints of the classroom assistants. An extra 4 hours a week without any extra money is somewhat harsh.

    But the Assembly has a set budget and no tax raising powers. Where is the extra money going to come from?

  • patrique

    Well, we could pull out of Iraq for a start, and stop spending money on Nuclear missiles which are not used.

    Or we could stop privatization, and selling off schools at half the market value, or building new council offices in every town that is soon to lose its council, or……………

  • MacAedha

    ‘But the Assembly has a set budget and no tax raising powers. Where is the extra money going to come from?’
    Where the money comes from ought to be easy to any housewife, balancing a budget without an accountant; trimming waste in other areas which do not provide the necessary services done by classroom assistants, for instance junkets and the expenses of education board senior staff and members.
    It would be interesting to see what John O’Dowd will do to reduce this element of public expenditure.