Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Nipsa in snap decision to suspend strike action

Nipsa classroom assistants will return to work on Tuesday, despite rejecting a pay deal last week.

Over the weekend, members across Northern Ireland voted to resume duties in the lead up to Christmas but will go back to the picket line today, as planned, for the seventeenth time.



Members are also expected to march on Stormont today to protest over the Joint Negotiating Council's decision to try to impose the Government offer.



Last week Unison, along with two other unions, accepted the offer and withdrew from industrial action. NIPSA said following weekend consultation meetings with members, a decision was taken to suspend industrial action to begin a "new

phase" of campaigning, with assistants back to work on December 4.



The snap decision to suspend the strike is likely to be welcomed by the thousands of parents whose children have been affected in the long running dispute, as well as Education Minister Caitriona Ruane who is being pressured for a esolution.



But the union insists the decision to return to work is in no way an acceptance of the Government offer. General secretary John Corey said members were still opposed to it and were "outraged" by the JNC's attempt to force them to accept the deal.



"Classroom assistants are rightly furious and disgusted by the way the employers’ attack on their terms and conditions of service has been forced through the Joint Negotiating Council," he said.



"The employers know full well that the other trade unions do not represent a majority of Classroom assistants. The decision was wholly undemocratic and an abuse of the industrial relations machinery.



"It is the Joint Negotiating Council’s attempt to impose the offer and the employers’ failure to respond positively to NIPSA’s proposal to ballot that has resulted in classroom assistants deciding to continue with the planned strike action today.



"Classroom assistants want to demonstrate their anger and disgust at the way they have been treated. However, further planned strike action will be suspended and members will return to work on Tuesday."



But Mr Corey warned the return to work did not mean "an end to the campaign" and didn't rule out more action: "This dispute is not over by any means and resumption of strike action is not ruled out."

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