Classrooom assistants to suspend strike for negotiations

The NI Executive’s Education minister is reported to be “delighted with this news”, but the classroom assistants only look likely to suspend their strike until 30th October after reaching agreement on further negotiations through LRA [pdf file]. Whether they then resume that picket line will depend on negotiations between now and then on the core issues not addressed by the last offer. NIPSA General Secretary John Gorey is quoted in the NIPSA statement [pdf file]

“The employers have now accepted the need to enter negotiations on the key issues that caused this dispute and have also affirmed that the current terms and conditions of employment of classroom assistants cannot be unilaterally varied. However, we are still only at the start of the negotiating process to achieve an agreement that will be acceptable to all classroom assistants.”

From the LRA agreement [pdf file]

1. Following the initial talks under the auspices of the Labour Relations Agency. Management Side and Trade Unions have agreed to continue with further talks between the parties to achieve a resolution of the current dispute. Management Side reaffirms its acceptance that the historic terms and conditions of employment to 32.5 hours and special needs allowance cannot be unilaterally varied.

These talks will include:-

a) the calculation of hourly rates of pay,
b) special needs allowance,
c) NVQ Level 3 qualification.

2. The Trade Unions will suspend the outcome of current consultations on the final offer tabled by the Management Side on 28 September on the basis that the offer does not resolve the current strike action by NIPSA members.

3. The parties will continue with intensive talks under the auspices of the Labour Relations Agency and/or directly between the Management and Trade Unions committed to securing an agreement to resolve the dispute. The completion date for these negotiations will be 30 october 2007.