“One spokesman said he hoped the dispute could be over by Christmas..”

There may be some clarity emerging in the ongoing classroom assistants dispute. From the available reports, we have on one side the Education and Library Boards new offer – which amounts to an additional one-off payment for the acceptance of the earlier offer. And on the other hand the main union involved, NIPSA, is pointing to their insistance that wages be based on the current 32.5 hour week, rather than the offered terms which use a 36 hour week. Interestingly the Assembly voted to put that particular issue into the mix.. something the Alliance Party’s chief whip, Kieran McCarthy, might have had in mind when he made this statement. Time for one, or more, NI Executive minister to insist on a large dose of realism?There’s one other potential wrinkle in this, on which some of that realism may or may not be insisted upon..

From the BBC report

The sticking point in the dispute is the change in the number of hours that assistants have to work to get a full salary.

Some of the unions involved admit that if classroom assistants are treated as a special case, other job sectors could take legal action claiming unequal treatment.

and the thread title?.. from the same BBC report

Talks will continue on Wednesday, after which the unions will put the fine detail of the latest offer to their members.

One spokesman said he hoped the dispute could be over by Christmas, but at this stage, Nipsa is still planning an all-out strike from Monday.

Unless the Education minister can unpaint herself from that corner..