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Education support workers are set to strike on Monday

By Michael McHugh

Published 09/05/2015

Protest: Paul Maskey
Protest: Paul Maskey

The first industrial action since the election over public spending cuts which are planned to intensify under the Tories is scheduled for Monday in Northern Ireland.

Education support workers will work to rule in a protest over job losses and terms and conditions as part of a widespread union backlash against savings in the power-sharing government.

Sinn Fein West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said support for his party was "a vote against all the cuts on welfare reform", while the DUP is still hoping to extract concessions from the Government.

But Grainne Walsh from Belfast-based political consultants Stratagem said the challenge would be to make Northern Ireland relevant across the water and buffer it from extensive cuts.

She said pensions in Northern Ireland accounted for half of the welfare budget and it would be difficult for the Conservatives to make the scale of reductions envisaged without affecting payments to the elderly or disabled.

"I do think they will want the security of DUP or SDLP support at various times because it is too slim a majority; they may be able to negotiate some form of comfort on that but I would not hold out very much hope on that," she said.

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