Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/507/3342
The Socialist 25 October 2007 |
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Classroom assistants challenge the Stormont Assembly
A BATTLE is being fought between classroom assistants who support teachers in many Northern Ireland schools and their employers, the Education and Library Boards. Ten days of strike action forced the employers to retreat from imposing pay cuts and the downgrading of trained staff in schools.
Padraig Mulholland, NIPSA branch 517
Classroom assistants took to the streets, picket lines were in place in almost every town and village and many demonstrations have been held. The employers have used vicious dirty tricks to try to turn public opinion against the strike but parents still rally to the classroom assistants.
The strike is now temporarily suspended to allow talks. Management must not be allowed to use this to strengthen its position. A determined public campaign by the strikers can keep things on track and direct control of the negotiations by classroom assistants will ensure that no deals are done behind the strikers' backs. A deadline for talks has been set. That deadline must not be broken.
The implications of this struggle are widespread. The Stormont Assembly is facing its first major revolt by workers. The education cuts policy of successive administrations is under attack and a generation of children are having their fate decided. The Assembly parties, despite platitudes about supporting the classroom assistants, have taken a solid stand against a just settlement.
Ultimately, the classroom assistants have to defeat the Assembly's position. It holds the purse strings and is the real power behind the Education Boards. It is time for all workers to stand behind the classroom assistants, to fight for an end to low pay and to build a political alternative to the Assembly parties.