We feel we have been left with no option
Nipsa chairwoman says after 13 years of pay negotiations, a strike was inevitable
An Ulster classroom assistant today said Nipsa members have been forced to strike to secure the proper education of thousands of Ulster schoolchildren.
Janette Murdock, a classroom assistant at Tor Bank School in Dundonald and chair of the SEELB branch of trade union Nipsa, said Government proposals will lead to a dramatic reduction in the level of education delivered to children across the province.
She explained that classroom assistants across the province felt they had no option, but to strike after 13 years of negotiations.
And speaking from the picket line at Tor Bank School this morning, she claimed she has never encountered such strength of feeling among her profession.
"I have been a classroom assistant for about 14 years and I have never seen classroom assistants so angry," she said.
"Everyone is just fed up and we feel we have been left with no other option but to strike. We are also getting tremendous support from the public and parents who realise what an important role we play in the education of their children.
"The role of the classroom assistant within the school is to help children in the room by working very closely with the teacher to implement the curriculum and to help the children reach their own personal goals.
"Clearly, every classroom assistant is concerned about the welfare of the pupils, otherwise they would not be doing the job. We want to see all pupils achieve the best they can in school.
"Eventually the whole job will be downgraded to unqualified lower paid staff and all we are asking is that our wages reflect our responsibilities.
"No-one wants to go out on strike, but we don't feel we have any other option. Under the terms we are being asked to accept, the children and classroom assistants are going to suffer so we will not be stopping until our terms are met."