Ruane Acts on Classroom Assistants’ Dispute
Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has told the Assembly that she will intervene in the classroom assistants' dispute.
The Minister said: "Classroom assistants provide an invaluable role and are a hugely positive force in the lives of the children they serve. They work with some of our most vulnerable young people, including those who have a range of special needs.
"I am concerned that since the Assembly debated this issue in June, and despite my own meetings with both the management side and the unions, there has been no real progress in resolving this issue.
"I have decided that to make progress, I am going to intervene. I am now calling on the employing authorities to proceed as swiftly as possible to implement the new gradings so that these valuable staff receive the pay rates to which they are entitled as a result of the systematic job evaluation process which has been carried out.
"These staff have already had to wait an unacceptable amount of time. We need to get the money to them that they deserve.
"We want a resolution to this dispute and to avoid any industrial action that may disrupt our classrooms and therefore I am also calling on the employers and the unions to meet today to sort out the remaining differences in an equitable way
"It is only right that there is a proper mechanism in place to ensure that the work that classroom assistants carry out is evaluated in a fair and consistent manner which ensures that jobs of equal value receive equal pay. This is the purpose of the Job Evaluation Scheme.
"The issues that have arisen here are part of a bigger picture. I believe we need to take a wider and more fundamental look at our approach to the planning and management of the education workforce in our schools. We should examine the roles and responsibilities of all the main groups and seek to maximise the contribution of each so that the pupils in our schools get the benefit of the skills and expertise which they each bring. I have asked my officials to draw up terms of reference for a review of this nature, with the aim of making progress as soon as practicable." ENDS