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Stalemate in Nipsa dispute

By Lisa Smyth

The Education Minister and management were last night again urged to intervene in the classroom assistant dispute to stop any further strikes.

While Nipsa has voted against accepting management's offer, the union said industrial action would resume from November 12 if a deal cannot be reached.

However, the Education and Library Boards have vowed that no special schools will close as a result of strike action.

A spokesman for the Boards said contingency plans are being put in place and stressed that while normal vetting procedures will not be carried out, people caring for children would be supervised at all times by other members of school staff.

Following consultation meetings with classroom assistants on Friday, Nipsa said that members supported further strike action in the dispute over job evaluation and grading.

The dispute hit crisis point during the week when talks between the unions and Education and Library Boards involving the Labour Relations Agency failed.

The other three unions involved in the dispute have agreed to continue to ballot members on the offer being made by management. This process could take several weeks to complete.

Nipsa said the classroom assistants it represents remain determined to continue with this campaign to stop the employers attacking their contractual terms and conditions of employment and cutting classroom assistants' pay rates for the future.

Nipsa General Secretary John Corey said: "Throughout this dispute all decisions are taken democratically by classroom assistants.

"We have been left in no doubt that the classroom assistants this union represents are not going to accept the employers' offer and are absolutely determined to continue with their campaign.

"Disputes can only be resolved by negotiations. There is now the opportunity in the next week to avoid further disruption to schools by the employers engaging in serious negotiations. If the employers will not do that, we demand that Ministers must intervene immediately."

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