Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

One union says accept offer, while school strike goes on

One of the unions involved in the classroom pay dispute today said it will be recommending that members accept the current pay offer.

Director of ATL Mark Langhammer said that, after careful consideration and legal advice, it was the opinion of the union that the demands cannot be met and, therefore, members should ensure they receive their back pay and pay off before Christmas.

He said: "Our legal advice, under local government Equal Pay and Single Status strictures, is that buy-out of the current 32.5 hour contract is the only course open. Fighting the dispute on retention of the 32.5 divisor is an un-winnable strategy.

"The offer does not reflect the quality of our classroom assistants' work, but we consider it is the best offer likely to emerge now. We are recommending acceptance to our members."

However, while ATL - which has less than 50 members - has made the decision to accept the offer, public service union Nipsa today slammed Education Minister Caitriona Ruane for appealing for an end to the strike.

As over 3,000 members began the second day of all out strike action, the union's general secretary John Corey said classroom assistants would be outraged by her comments.

"Classroom assistants are among the lowest paid public service staff and have taken this strike action as a last resort," he said.

"They are part of families and have children directly affected by the strike and no one cares more for the children affected than the classroom assistants themselves."

Nipsa has also written to Ms Ruane making clear the determination to continue with strike action.

His comments follow a statement by Ms Ruane yesterday in which she welcomed the fact that three of the four unions caught up in Ulster's longest running pay dispute were giving serious consideration to the offer made at the end of last month.

She continued: "In light of the improved offer of September 28 I would call on those engaged in industrial action to desist from any action that places the burden of the disagreement onto those children and families who most need help."

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