“Disputes can only be resolved by negotiations..”

The two weeks of negotiations spent explaining the Education Boards offer to the unions representing classroom assistants ended last week with no change in anyone’s position. Today the GMB union, as anticipated here, announced that their 1570 members had voted 4 to 1 to accept that offer. The problem for the boards, and the minister, is that NIPSA represent over 3000 classroom assistants and they remain opposed to the offer. This week NIPSA are due to give formal notice of a resumption of strike action [pdf file] on or after 12th November. But, as reported in Saturday’s Belfast Telegraph, NIPSA General secretary, John Corey, is also holding open the door to real negotiations. [pdf file]

“Disputes can only be resolved by negotiations. There is now the opportunity in the next week to avoid further disruption to schools by the employers engaging in serious negotiations. If the employers will not do that, we demand that Ministers must intervene immediately.”

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  • Alex S

    As the parent of a special needs child with thankfully a non NIPSA Classroom Assistant I fail to see how the GMB union can vote 4 to 1 to accept yet NIPSA are all for striking?

    Can anyone explain!

  • ulsterfan

    This dispute has gone on too long.
    The Minister of Education must be more pro- active and as money is needed she should be speaking to Peter Robinson who holds the purse strings.
    She may even have enough in her own budget to get closure.
    Children should never be deprived of education especially those who have special needs.
    This dispute reflects badly on our society.

  • harry

    well evidently, the minister and board management have had no desire to resolve this issue in the short term.

    it is perferable, in their mind, to let classroom assistant sweat it out, knowing that they are going without pay. that the coming of christmas, always a financially demanding time for families, would divide the resolve of the assisstants.

    i have already spoken to assistants in NIPSA who are ready to accept the deal, as they dont want to strike any longer.

    it seems the Catroina has picked up the old divide and conquer tips real quick.

    furthermore, with regard to special needs children, of course no ones wants to see their education interupted. But at the same time, the classroom assistants are not charity workers. they are lowly paid and if striking is their only leverage to better conditions in the workplace, well they should strike.

    often the assistants have to deal with the most “behaviourly challenged” children. so i do accept the cry “oh selfish assistants, think of of the poor children”

  • spiritof07

    Ruane doesn’t give a damn. she stood with the strikers in the past and now won’t lift a finger in support (well maybe two fingers). the worst kind of politican.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Another conclusion demonstration of how SF are telling lies when they claim to be Socialist.

    Its Ruane’s watch, just like she voted for PFI in the Executive and many other anti-worker policies she is standing by while low-paid, dedicated workers get crapped on.

    I wonder how their European colleagues in the GUE/NGL, proper Socialists, feel about being hooked up with an actively centre-right party?

    Their supporters on Slugger can’t even work out a credible way to defend this, that’s because it’s indefensible.

  • Frank Sinistra

    ‘conclusion’ should be conclusive’ above.

    I don’t even know why I bother pointing this out now. It’s surely a given that SF are a centre-right party too embarrassed to admit the truth?

  • harry

    Their supporters on Slugger can’t even work out a credible way to defend this, that’s because it’s indefensible.

    exactly right. they still trying work out they ended up in a coalition with the DUP carrying out the worse policies on the behalf of the Brits

    Classroom assistants
    Water Rates
    PPS14

    all key electoral planks of SF, now to be explained away.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Harry,

    Its a Peter Robinson government and no rabbits are coming out of any hats just a big SF one caught in his headlights.

    Sad, really. Especially for those Socialists that believed them.

    The new boss, they aren’t even that. Meet the new middle management supporting a new boss worse than the old boss.

    God, how does a Socialist Republican even start to contribute to rebuilding from this shambles?

    Though, they still have the nerve to claim to be Socialist. The barefaced cheek annoys me.

  • tweedledee

    Alex S,

    As the parent of a special needs child with thankfully a non NIPSA Classroom Assistant I fail to see how the GMB union can vote 4 to 1 to accept yet NIPSA are all for striking?

    Can anyone explain!

    One union has weak leadership, the other doesn’t.

  • Frank Sinistra

    To be honest IMO, NIPSA being larger has been actively targeted for infiltration and manipulation by dedicated small (and larger) socialist parties causing a radical approach while the smaller GMB seems to be more guided by managerialist exploitation for personal position.

    Both of them act in the interests of their respective cadres over the workers’ interests.

    They, like the bosses are now so hierarchal and leadership driven its hard to see who uses the worker most.

  • DC

    If Ruane can’t bring an effective resolution to this longstanding issue perhaps she should resign.

  • 0b101010

    No doubt NIPSA will huff and puff and strike and whine before finally accepting an offer so much worse than whatever was originally on the table. That is, after all, what they’re good at.

    Perhaps I’m nutty–and I’ll admit I have no first-hand experience other than going through the system myself–but maybe the money going to these lower-paid, lower-qualified hole-plugging jobs would be better spent on the people that historically did the job all by themselves. Maybe then people would actually want to be teachers, doctors, etc. or wouldn’t have to leave the country searching for a fair wage for important jobs. Maybe then we’d all be better off.

    That said, for all I know teachers may be all too happy to give up that portion of their collective salaries just to keep the extra help “doing photocopies and filling paint-pots” (as it was sold at introduction).

    Just to deviate away from them and on to the general… but NIPSA’s short-sightedness is probably a distillation of the country’s widely-held working-class socialism that’s grown a bit too cosy on what, to me, seems like a job scheme for the entire populace: our disgustingly bloated Civil Service. Ultimately there’s really only a couple of choices: either you pay as many people as you can piss-poor wages to do jobs they may or may not be any good at (or may not even need done) just to keep employment up, or you cut out all the dead wood (and tiers of management) so that you can actally pay capable staff competitive salaries.

  • Sean Og

    If NIPSA do call another all out strike less than 30% of their classroom assisants will go out. The leadership know that. That’s why they have delayed. They played their best hand and it didn’t shift the employers. Now they don’t have a clue what to do.

    Mr Corey needs to wake up and smell the coffee. The dispute is over. You lost. Now take the money on offer for your members and move on to the next public sector dispute.

    I have to agree with Ob101010 – the civil service is a job creation scheme. The latest budget settlement won’t allow it to continue for long though and the numbers will drop significantly over the next 3 years. We’ll see a lot more of Mr Corey on the media trying to persuade the public that it’s actually a good use of taxes to pay thousands of civil servants to do very little.

  • Dessertspoon

    Well Sean how sure are you of that? Why all the adverts on the radio and newspapers for NEW CIVIL SERVICE JOBS!!

  • tweedledee

    This one hasn’t even the leadership to make a recommendation

    [quote]Lily Kerr from the Unison union, said the talks were never close to agreement – and that now it was time for their members to decide what they wanted to do next.

    “I’m putting it out with no recommendation – our members themselves will make up their minds,” she said.[/quote]

    And then if they reject the offer, with no recommendation either way from their ‘leadership’:

    [quote]“We will have to then discuss, if they reject it, what happens because that would take us into a ballot for industrial action.”[/quote]

    Instead of already having the mandate to call a strike before the last round.

    Weak, incompetent, and possibly corrupt.

  • tweedledee

    Wonderful stuff:

    [quote]A spokesman for the Boards said contingency plans are being put in place and stressed that while normal vetting procedures will not be carried out, people caring for children would be supervised at all times by other members of school staff.[/quote]

    They’re planning to hire paedophiles as blackleggers.

  • lib2016

    F S

    Sinn Fein have made no secret of their belief that the most important problem facing them is to expedite Irish reunification. That means contributing towards the building of a stable society and accepting a great many compromises.

    That’s why I consider myself a convinced socialist and still vote for them. If I wanted to be pure but totally ineffectual there’s always the Trots.

  • Outstanding in my field

    Lib – fair play.

  • Sunningdale

    The Department and the Boards deserve strong criticism for wasting years in mismanagement and vacilation and frankly some officials should be shown the door but as a soon to be ex-NIPSA member I have watched this mess with increasing dispair.

    I have dealt with all three Unions over the years and know John Corey to be a fair and decent man, but NIPSA have a monumental abilty to pick the wrong fights time and time again. Largely because so few members vote for the leadership its council has become riddled with SWP types and various other fellow travellers. This political ‘smash the management/government/business’ approach both looses them support and results in frequent mishandling of negotiations.

    Listening to Lily Kerr (and Patricia McKeown) it is clear that Unison are unwilling to criticise NIPSA on principle but obviously disagree with the NIPSA stance.

    I have reluctantly decided that NIPSA is beyond saving and I can’t in fairness justify paying my dues to a Union that is patently incapable of behaving rationally anymore.

  • harry

    Sinn Fein have made no secret of their belief that the most important problem facing them is to expedite Irish reunification. That means contributing towards the building of a stable society and accepting a great many compromises.

    sf accepting comprimses?? but they are not!! its the classroom assistants that are forced by the sf minister to accept comprimses.

    you dont see to many of our mla, accepting wage cuts only rises.

    you are fooling yourself if you think sf are still interested in a united ireland

  • Turgon

    lib 2016,
    “Sinn Fein have made no secret of their belief that the most important problem facing them is to expedite Irish reunification. That means contributing towards the building of a stable society and accepting a great many compromises.
    That’s why I consider myself a convinced socialist and still vote for them. If I wanted to be pure but totally ineffectual there’s always the Trots.”

    So in your analysis it is okay for the classroom assistants to have a real terms pay cut and the “socialists” of SF approve of it because it is for the greater good of a united Ireland.

    I wonder how the very poorly paid predominantly female classroom assistants would take to that. Being sacrificed on the altar of a united Ireland. I especially wonder how the unionist ones would regard it. I suppose they should be grateful. At least SF are now only approving of cutting their pay and not of murdering them if they had the audacity to be related to police officers, soldiers, be at war memorials or hotels or just the audacity to be Prods in the way of the righteous pursuit of a united Ireland.

  • Alex S

    They’re planning to hire paedophiles as blackleggers.

    Posted by tweedledee on Nov 06, 2007 @ 03:27 PM

    Parents of special needs kids, have been asked to provide cover if needed, get your facts right!!!!

  • tweedledee

    [quote]Parents of special needs kids, have been asked to provide cover if needed, get your facts right!!!![/quote]

    Parents to blackleg striking workers jobs. Happy now?

  • tweedledee

    Sunningdale,

    I have reluctantly decided that NIPSA is beyond saving and I can’t in fairness justify paying my dues to a Union that is patently incapable of behaving rationally anymore.

    You prefer to pay dues to a union that negotiates pay cuts?

    The law needs changed too. This voluntary union membership is hogwash, designed to weaken and break unions, no more, no less. Workplaces should vote on certification, at most, some would argue that getting a majority to sign cards is enough, and once certified dues should be compulsory, under the principle that if you benefit from collective bargaining you contribute.

  • Redhaze

    lib2016,

    “Sinn Fein have made no secret of their belief that the most important problem facing them is to expedite Irish reunification. That means contributing towards the building of a stable society and accepting a great many compromises.”

    This is entertaining. Even if you were to believe that what is happening up at Stormont could in some miraculous way lead to Irish unification (which I don’t BTW and no one can convincingly outline how this process made come to fruition) what type of republic would it be?

    One where continued poverty and exploitation was rife? Would that be a worthy objective? Not in my book. I have never been much interested in changing my bosses accent.

    This notion of compromise out forward by you is a gass. Unfortunately, the working people do nothing but compromise.

    When your wages are low and your employer and the minister responsible refuse to reach a fair and just settlement you have to compromise alright. Between paying this bill or that one. Eating three good meals a day or three less wholesome ones.

    Our existence is filled with compromises but not ones which can be passed as honourable.

  • Sunningdale

    Tweedledee

    So you favour compulsory dues to a single union even if it doesn’t represent you? At least the Classroom assistants have some choice regarding the Union who represents them.

    I have been an active NIPSA member and seen members refused support by Union reps because they are the wrong sort of staff (such as direct entrant junior managers) or told problems aren’t worth fighting where clear injustices have been apparent and yet when quizzed about how the pay system works in one of NIs larger public sector employers those same NIPSA officials clearly don’t have a clue how the system works (and therefore how to maximise the benefits for low paid staff) – which is not exactly ideal when those same officials are the ones negotiating with the management.

    I support the right of staff to representation but would defend the right of those staff to disassociate themselves from a Union which has lost its soul to class warriors and forgotten what it is there for in the first place.

    If you want compulsory Union membership in a Socialist Workers paradise then either give me choice of unions or one which is capable of representing members (eg Unison)

  • tweedledee

    Sunningdale,

    I favour closed shops. If you benefit from collective bargaining, then you should pay your dues the same as others. Certainly there are people who believe they don’t need a union to negotiate their wages and conditions of employment. Good luck to them, in a non-unionised workplace. In an environment where a union is recognised for the purpose of collective bargaining, those people do not negotiate their wages and conditions, they get the same wages and conditions as dues paying union members.

    As to your dissatisfaction with your union representation, it could be a case of corruption, disinterest or lack of participation, incompetence, or poor training. The less money a union has, the fewer qualified, trained, experienced resources. Withholding dues just because you can will not improve the situation. Get involved. Go to meetings. Go visit your union office/hall. Participate, become active. A union is only as strong as its membership, and an active, participating membership makes it harder for the corrupt and the incompetent to run the show.

    one which is capable of representing members (eg Unison)

    Whose leader was unable to make a recommendation to her members? That’s a cop-out if ever there was one, and no union leader should ever cop-out like that. That’s not leadership. Right or wrong, she’s supposed to make a call, that’s her job as a union leader.

  • 0b101010

    If you benefit from collective bargaining…

    The only people that benefit from collective bargaining are those that could never prove their worth to benefit from individual bargaining.

    Unions are a load of self-serving tosh, and NIPSA doubly so. So many complaints about pay and conditions and yet few staff willing to vote with their feet and leave the cosy confines of the NICS.

    Frankly, tweedledee, your ideal of forced union membership strikes me as a terrifying symptom of an oppressive communist dystopia.

  • 0b101010

    Unions are a load of self-serving tosh, and NIPSA doubly so.

    Of course, just to clarify, I mean the union organisations exist to serve themselves, clearly not their membership; stirring up enough angst every couple of years to give the loyal Deltas a reason to feel like their dues actually go towards something.

  • tweedledee

    Ob101010,

    The only people that benefit from collective bargaining are those that could never prove their worth to benefit from individual bargaining

    You have any data/statistics to back that up, or was that just a slap at those you look down on?

    Here’s an example of collective bargaining:

    [quote]NBA union president sees labor deal soon
    (Agencies)
    Updated: 2005-02-19 10:33

    The president of the NBA players’ union emerged from a collective bargaining session Friday and said he’s optimistic a new labor agreement will be reached by the end of the regular season.

    “It’s almost impossible to get one done come playoff time, so I’m optimistic that it’s going to get done before the end of the (season),” union president Michael Curry said. [/quote]

    No doubt those players in the NBA “could never prove their worth to benefit from individual bargaining”.

    Opinions are good, everyone has one, informed opinions are even better.