School support staff strike action suspended pending negotiations with Department of Education

Workers taking part in a rally outside Belfast City Hall in a running dispute over pay
-Credit: (Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Strike action by school support staff has been postponed as trade unions are set for negotiations with the Department of Education.

School support staff were due to take part in industrial action on Monday, June 3 and Tuesday, June 4, due to a pay dispute with the DE, but have now called these off pending new negotiations.

Unite the Union has suspended strike action for Monday, June 3, pending negotiations.

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Union officials met with representatives of the Department of Education and the Education Authority on Friday, May 31, with further talks due to talk place on Monday.

All trade unions have, however, clearly stated that action short of strike action will remain in place and that they will return to strike action if negotiations are not conducted in good faith and in a timely fashion.

NIPSA Deputy General Secretary, Patrick Mulholland, stated: “A short window of opportunity is now in place to allow the NI Assembly to find a resolution to this bitter dispute.

"Our members expect to receive a just settlement that reflects their hard work and commitment. If this is not forthcoming, then we will return to the picket lines with the full force at our disposal.

"The choice is clear, a just solution or strikes and strife in our education system”.

Education Minister Paul Givan has welcomed the suspension of Industrial Action planned for next week by support staff.

Welcoming the decision the Minister said: “I welcome today’s positive development that unions have agreed to suspend strike action next week to allow for intense negotiation aimed at finding a resolution to the ongoing pay and grading dispute. This means importantly, that it will now be possible for many schools planning to close on Monday and Tuesday to open as normal.”

The Minister continued: “I fully acknowledge the exceptional role played by support staff right across the education sector. Without their outstanding dedication and hard work, those who are most dependent on the services they provide, would not receive the vital support they need and deserve.

“I am committed to working with the unions to find a resolution and remain confident that progress can be made. I will work with Executive colleagues to ensure that is the result.”

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