As a result of a further day of strike action by Unite the Union on Friday 1st April in relation to a national pay offer for Local Government staff working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is expected to be some further disruption to education services.
Whilst the majority of schools, youth and other Education Authority (EA) services are expected to operate as normal on 1st April or with minimal disruption due to contingency plans in place, strike action is expected to cause some disruption to some schools, and transport and school meals services.
In particular, a number of Special School pupils will be impacted as some EA bus services will not be operating and, in addition, a number of Classroom Assistants are taking part in Unite’s Industrial action, resulting in a move to remote learning for one of the 40 Special Schools.
The EA is continuing to implement a range of contingency measures and is working very closely with Special Schools to minimise disruption for children and young people as we very much recognise the impact this has on their day.
The EA again asked Unite for exemptions from this Friday’s strike action for Special School staff, and for drivers transporting pupils to Special Schools, to minimise the disruption to our children and young people. However, these latest requests were considered and not accepted.
Similar to last week, we will continue to work hard to ensure that the majority of transport and school meal services are delivered.
Clare Duffield, EA Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services, said:
“We are disappointed at a further day of industrial action in relation to a national pay deal for England, Wales and Northern Ireland which has already been accepted by the majority of Trade Unions and arrangements are being made for this to be paid.
“Therefore, Local Government organisations, including EA, do not have the power or authority to renegotiate this for Northern Ireland.
“This being the case, I remain very concerned about the disproportionate impact the industrial action is having on children, particularly those with special educational needs, and would call upon Unite to reconsider putting in place exemptions for Special School staff and transport.
“National negotiations are due to commence on the 22/23 Pay Award and we would encourage Unite to join their Trade Union colleagues to engage constructively on this. Additionally, we will continue to engage collectively with all of our Trade Unions on local issues impacting on pay terms and conditions.”