“proposal to ballot classroom assistants does not mean we have changed our view..”

Interesting development in the classroom assistants’ dispute ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the employers and the unions representing the classroom assistants, and following a series of meetings today [pdf file] of the NIPSA representatives, a BBC report notes that NIPSA have stated that they will be balloting their members again on the offered terms and conditions. Although

[NIPSA] said it was balloting members because employers had claimed there was overwhelming support for their offer… “The proposal to ballot classroom assistants does not mean we have changed our view on the employers’ offer,” Deputy General Secretary Brian Campfield said.

It’s also reported that

He said if the education boards “responded positively” and “stepped back” from any attempt to impose the offer the union would consult urgently with classroom assistants about suspension of the current strike action campaign.

Update At today’s meeting [Friday]

Unions representing classroom assistants in Northern Ireland have agreed to take the pay packages offered by the education boards. NIPSA which was outvoted at a key meeting this morning remains unhappy with the deal. It has yet to decide whether to continue with planned industrial action. It only took half an hour for the union delegates to accept by a small majority the deal offered by the education boards to classroom assistants.

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  • Dessertspoon

    Nothing to do with the boards talking about going to each Classroom Assistant individually with the pay offer then?!?

  • patrique

    This is still a nonsense. NIPSA represent the majority of the workers. Including the GMB who represent single figures, thus enabling them to outvote NIPSA, is morally wrong. If we applied the same to the assembly, well the PUP (one member) support the assistants, as indeed would all of the parties bar DUP/Sinn Fein.However the assembly has no intention of giving the PUP equal voting rights with the DUP, that principal only applies to Trade Unions.

    Maggie Ruane will be delighted. However, if the assistants are forced back to work, everyone loses. Standards in the schools drop, and low wages and no qualifications needed will mark an upsurge of applications for these jobs from those who really want to work with children. Child molesters.

  • Alex S

    I am confused, when questioned as to why NIPSA did’nt have a ballot on the new offer some weeks ago we were told that they had consulted their members, meetings had been held etc etc, now the same people are complaining their members did’nt get to have a ballot, some weeks ago I said that NIPSA are leading their members into a cul de sac, now they have come to a dead end. Fools fools!
    The childern they claimed to have been striking for have suffered for nothing.

  • patrique

    You need to understand something about anti-trade uinion laws. To go on strike you need a ballot. NIPSA did that. They had no need to have another ballot.

    When the other UNION (singular) Unison decided to accept the offer, and government propaganda threw in the GMB, T and G and probably the Musicians Union, NIPSA then were forced to do the honourable thing and have another ballot. Suddenly Maggie Ruane doesn’t believe in “union Democracy” anymore, and doesn’t want a ballot.

    The vast majority of these workers are in NIPSA, and they are being ignored in a forced settlement.

    It is sad that yet again the weekest in society, female workers, are being ignored and treated like dirt and still suffering. And from this point onwards, the children will begin to suffer at reduced standards. This is about the workers AND the children. They will both suffer now.

    The actions of the GMB in this are shameful. If they had “won” their strike ballot they would be in gaol now for balloting the wrong people.But because the result suited the executive, that’s all right then. You can break these harsh laws if you break them in favour of the bosses.

    And Alex S, this is about education cuts. Will that benefit the children?

  • steve

    For the record here is the GMB statement of 30 november 2007 on this matter.


    At the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) meeting this morning the employers offer to classroom assistants of 28th September and 4th October 2007 was accepted by the trade union side of the JNC by two unions in favour to one union against and one union abstaining. This brings to an end this matter which has gone unresolved for 13 years. the unions that voted in favour have called on the employer to ensure that the lump sum element of the offer worth £15 million to the 7,000 classroom assistants is in their pay packs before Christmas (see note 2). The trade unions now want to move on to review with the employers the role and function of classroom assistants in the new education world of today. The unions also want to see progress on job evaluation in respect of school cleaners and vehicle maintenance staff employed by the education boards. The unions also want to see a comprehensive reivew of the pay structure of catering staff in education.


    Notes to editors:
    1 GMB secured a four to one vote in favour of the offer when it balloted 1,570 callroom assistant members. Unison achieved a similar vote in favour when they balloted their members.
    2 The new agreement is in 3 parts as follows:-
    Regrading: Approx 50% of existing staff will be upgraded at a cost of £3.5m per year and up to £25m will be paid in back pay back to1995.
    Hours rationalisation: The employer has agreed that an additional £15 million will be paid as a one off lump sum to all existing classroom assistants by way of compensation to existing staff for an hours rationalisation for new staff. 3,195 classroom assistants with less than 5 years service will get £1,614 and 3,629 above 5 years will get £2,479.
    Pay Protection: No existing members of staff will be required to work additional hours or be required to change their hours of work or their times of work. Existing members of staff not upgraded will continue to receive their current hourly rates for their current hours of work. All existing staff not upgraded will continue to benefit from future pay increases. In addition, the special needs allowance will also be fully protected for existing staff and again, staff will see an increase in this allowance in line with future pay increases

  • patrique

    1 GMB secured a four to one vote in favour of the offer when it balloted 1,570 callroom assistant members.

    This included drivers, cleaners, groundspeople, caretakers and indeed anyone connected to education. At the start of the dispute they had 30 classroom assistants, so why ballot 1,500 people? Most of the thirty have since left.

    The GMB should be prosecuted for falsifying a ballot. I await developments from the assembly on this.

    I am beginning to miss that nice lady Thatcher.

  • bumper

    ‘This is about the workers AND the children. They will both suffer now.

    It may have escaped your tiny mind but vulnerable schoolchildren have been suffering for weeks as a result of the kamikaze strike action led out by NIPSA.

    Classroom Assistants are lions led by donkeys-The NIPSA Executive has exhibited shambolic leadership – they are best described as weak-minded fence-sitters with all the tactical nous of Steve McLaren’s dog.

  • Garibaldy

    Just came across this ICTU-brokered agreement between the unions on Indymedia


    It seems like this agreement, if it was in fact agreed, was violated extremely quickly. Can anyone tell us more?

  • patrique

    Thank the Lord for having a “tiny” mind. Kamikaze action, Steve McLaren’s dog, indeed I am happy to be be daft if that is an example of enlightenment.

    And Steve’s dog has £2.5 million worth of bones to chew on, unlike the classroom assistants or children.

    Indeed the agreement was broken right away, and should be withdrawn as the combined might of the PUP, Alliance and Independent disagree with it at Stormont.

    Oh sorry, it is only in regard to Trade Unions that 1,506 is a majority of 7,000.

    Silly me, that’s what comes of having a tiny mind.

  • bumper

    Sorry Patweak,

    You’re right an apology is owed by me for my inappropriate comparision of the tactical nous displayed by the NIPSA leadership with that of a humble pooch

    -OK, Here goes, sorry for insulting you, Fido….

    In the meantime, brace yourself for the inevitable, humiliating climbdown by NIPSA’S ‘intelligentsia’ on Monday-so sad, so predictable.

  • patrique

    Bumper, your stalwart support for Sinn Fein is creditable, but have you read your own manifesto?

  • bumper

    Another classic example of NIPSA’s political savvy.

    Shock, Horror but I’ve never voted SF in my life.

    But as a union person, Patweak, surely you should refrain from indulging in Macarthyism?

    Then again, ‘poachers turned gamekeepers’ has been the modus operandi of many a NIPSA careerist.

    Any chance of the NIPSA hoi polloi giving up part of their salaries to help ease the financial burden facing CAs as a result of this strike….answers on a postcard..

  • patrique

    Bumper, marking an x on a ballot paper may be beyond you.

    I said your support for Sinn Fein, not vote.

    And NIPSA officials I am sorry to say are poorly paid, probably at the bottom end of the trade union salary scale. The secretary of the PFA may get 1.2 million a year, scandalous, but his members average 5 million a year.

    As for saying officials should do such a thing merely highlights your childishness. Employers pay wages, or should, not employees. I suspect you personally are not in the labour market, as you seem to know very little about these things.

    In your favour you finally admit that the assistants face a financial burden, not caused by the strike, because minimum strike pay is probably better than their normal rates.

    It appears this may go to court, as the classroom assistants can count. If Unison represent some 2,000, NIPSA 3000,GMB 1,500 and T and G 1,500, someone is telling porkies because there are 7000 in total. Unless there is 100% union membership, the national average being well below that. So the assistants are asking that these ballots of “members” by other unions are checked.

    And with your attitude Bumper, I suspect you would vote for CIRA.

  • Garibaldy

    So is the NIPSA ballot still going ahead, even if only to prove a point?

  • patrique

    An expensive point, and for what? If the minister refuses to listen to unions and the assistants and wants to impose a settlement on them, what are the choices. A long war, a hunger strike, armed resistance? That might be the minister’s style, but the assistants have more dignity.

    Personally, I would hold the ballot, but I have little say in the matter.

  • bumper

    Oh Dear, a raw nerve has been hit with Patweak ahead of NIPSA running up the white flag after marching them up to the top of the hill etc…

    In Patweak’s world, anyone (including the rest of the affected Unions by the way) having the temerity to disagree with NIPSA’s solo run down a blind alley, must be;
    a) A closet Shinner.
    b) A brew-hopper.

    RIGHT ON COMRADE!-But sorry to diappoint your right-wing mindset, I ain’t either.
    Now be a good boy and run along and get your Sunday Telegraph..

  • circles

    Why waste more money on a pointless ballot? This will only delay the inevitable return to work based on exactly the same deal accepted by the other unions.

  • patrique

    Just as I thought Bumper might know a few people, or a bit of NIPSA history, he disappoints again. Patrique (moi) has been rejected by the left wing for being too far left.

    And I never knew they did a “Tele” on Sunday. I thought that was the Sunday Life.

    Honestly Bumper, I think one of the receptionists at your dole office has upset you, and you are taking it out on NIPSA. The government make the rules there as well, not the union. Chin up.

  • circles

    You’ve suitably demonstated how well-read you are, Patweak, in never having heard of the Sunday Telegraph-nuff said.
    Your self-proclaimed uber left-wing credentials are somewhat undermined by your fixation in insisting that NIPSA opponents must surely be worthless dole-scroungerswho are clearly the lowest of the low in your eyes.Where is your sympathy with the downtrodden masses,Comrade?
    Meantime back in the real world, more vulnerable kids will be left confused and without help tomorrow as the NIPSA masterplan continues on its merry way.
    Then again, Patweak, if the parents of these kids are on State Benefits, you’ll probably think that they deserve nothing better.

    Anyone working on that face-saving exit strategy yet?

  • patrique

    And the inability to read is spreading, just as the attack on education intensifies. I never mentioned the unemployed, Bumper did that. I surmised that Bumper was not part of the labour market, as he knows little about it. He could be in the Royal Family, unemployed, or simply filthy rich.

    As for people on benefits, I am a Civil Servant and a high number of my work colleagues are on benefits, as their wages need topping up by the government. If they were paid more, the government would be saving on benefits, funny old world isn’t it?

    As I said, the only person to mention the unemployed was Bumper, he used the derogatory term “brew-hopper”, and now Circles mentions “dole scroungers”.Having attitudes such as those, it is little wonder that you are anti-union, and anti workers. If the government is prepared to let these children suffer, vote for a new government.

    On that very subject, many of tomorrows strikers are from Ruane’s constituency. Perhaps they should have chosen a better candidate, sorry, Minister.

    And Circles and Bumper, you should be ashamed of yourselves deriding the unfortunate casualties of the capitalist system.

  • circles

    Your Post (13) is the first occasion that a reference is made to another poster being ‘out of the labour market’.

    This was entirely irrelevant within the topic of the thread and betrayed your own prejudices towards the unemployed. Essentially this was a cheap shot at Bumper because you could not deal with the issues raised.

    Your condescending tone was then surpassed by your smug self-satisfication at being ‘too left-wing for NIPSA’-truly you are a legend in your own lunchtime…

  • patrique

    Well that’s it then, Circle, if you say so. “Out of the labour market” currently includes Prince Charles, Jose Mourinho and millions of retired people. Friend Bumper mentioned the unemployed,whose ranks I will be shortly joining, yet again, as thousands of Civil Service jobs are lost to line someones pocket.

    So I do not believe I mentioned the unemployed at all, as stated above.I simply stated that Bumper did not have much knowledge of how things worked, no idea about employment law, and he thought unions paid the workers.

    I take the “smug self satisfaction” bit as a compliment, you have obviously run out of things to say.

    Join the picket lines tomorrow, join the Stormont demo.

    Hasta la victoria siempre.

  • Sean Og

    So what’s happened? Everybody was out of step except NIPSA? John Corey should be considering his position. As should the entire Executive of NIPSA. 2 major disputes completely mis-managed in as many years.

    Those special needs kids were messed about and had their education disrupted; and the classroom assistants lost a lot of pay, all for nothing.

    NIPSA members will get exactly what members of other unions will get without striking.

    Well done NIPSA.

  • patrique


    NIPSA members will get exactly what members of other unions will get without striking.

    Well done NIPSA.
    Posted by Sean Og on Dec 04, 2007 @ 06:09 PM

    Hello? As Mr McEnroe may have said “you cannot be serious man”. Are you blaming NIPSA because of the scabs in the other unions?

    Workers have one weapon. The strike. If they do not use it, they are beaten. Unison, and the few people in the other two, did not strike, so MAYBE the assistants will be beaten. How can you possibly blame NIPSA for that?

    As perhaps NIPSA’s biggest critic over the last 5 years, could I ask how you reach that conclusion?

    Unlike the GMB NIPSA did not ballot anyone standing around. The classroom assistants voted for strike action. Being democratic, NIPSA obliged. John Corey and General Council did not vote for the strike. 99% of the time I would welcome a call for General Council to stand down, but on this occasion, they supported the workers. The other unions did not.Scabs get the same pay as everyone else all the time, and if you think this is morally right, well OK, Catriona or Maggie or whatever your name is.

    So yes, everyone else was out of tune, just like the assembly on the issue, but unfortunately the assembly goes by a majority vote, unions apparently in this case do not. NIPSA represents the majority of assistants, so of course they were doing what the assistants wanted, and the minority were out of step.

    As this is about education can I recommend a good poem called “For What died the sons’ of Roisin”.

    And it is still running.