School strikers told: deal is fair and final
Education bosses last night insisted an offer made to thousands of striking classroom assistants over a week ago was fair and final.
As over 3,000 Nipsa members completed the first day of all-out strike action, the chief executives of Northern Ireland's Education and Library Boards expressed their concern at what they claim is ongoing confusion about their offer and moved to clarify the terms of the proposed deal.
A spokesman for the five boards stressed that there will be no increase in working hours for any classroom assistant or pay cut for anyone currently employed as a classroom assistant.
The comments come hours after Education Minister Caitriona Ruane welcomed the fact that three of the four unions involved in the negotiating process were giving consideration to the offer made at the end of last month.
"I am aware that management side has also issued an open letter to all classroom assistants explaining in detail the full terms of the offer. I would urge everyone to give the offer their full consideration."
However, there appeared to be no impending resolution to the deadlock as Nipsa representatives reiterated their stance to continue industrial action until their demands are met.
NIPSA's general secretary John Corey said classroom assistants would be outraged by the response of the minister. "Classroom assistants are among the lowest paid public service staff and have taken this strike action as a last resort.
"They are part of families and have children directly affected by the strike," said Mr Corey.
"And no one cares more for the children affected than the classroom assistants themselves."