Fermanagh school support staff go on strike

THOUSANDS of non-teaching staff in the Education Authority (EA) across the North took strike action on Monday.
It was the first of three days of industrial action. The Unite, GMB and Nipsa trade unions have notified employers of two further strike dates on June 3 and 4.
In Fermanagh, workers walked out as part of a long-running dispute over pay and job grading.
The Education Authority (EA) said the strike action would “cause significant disruption” to special schools.
It said about eight schools were expected to close and five to partially close, and would result in about 250 EA (yellow) buses not running. It would also impact about 20 per cent of children entitled to a free school meal.
Only a pay and grading review would lead to improved pay scales and wages.
“School support workers in Northern Ireland have been left behind – they are underpaid, suffering a staffing crisis and the equality issues at the root of the pay and grading review remain unaddressed,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.
“Our members working as school support workers have the full and continued backing of Unite in their fight to secure implementation of this long overdue review.”
School support staff are among the lowest paid in the education system.
Some jobs for classroom assistants are currently advertised by the EA at about £12 per hour.
Jobs for school bus drivers and catering staff are available at roughly the same hourly rate.
“We are calling on MLAs to sign a pledge that they will vote down any budget that does not include funding to deliver the pay and grading review,” Unite regional officer Kieran Ellison said.
“After six years of waiting, education workers in Northern Ireland have had enough. MLAs must now deliver for low-paid school support workers and the children, including special educational needs children, they assist.”
It now comes down to the 2024/25 Stormont budget.
“We remain fully committed to delivering the pay and grading review,” an EA statement said.
“However, we simply don’t have the money to proceed at this time and a resolution is outside of our control.”

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