School bus drivers among thousands of education support staff to take part in strike

Three days of strike action are scheduled for this month and two in June

Around 260 Nipsa members are due to take part in five-day targeted strike action
NIPSA members are joining a joint-union strike by education support staff over pay and grading.

School bus drivers are among education support workers taking part in upcoming strike action, amid warnings of a “storm of industrial strife” in the autumn if pay issues are not resolved.

Drivers who are members of NIPSA are to strike for three days this month and two further days in June in a row over pay and grading.

They are among thousands of education support staff from three unions who have agreed strike action following meetings with the Department of Education.

The unions are demanding the “fully funded implementation of the education Pay and Grading Review” and warned that further strike action could also take place at the beginning of the autumn term.

In a joint statement, NIPSA, Unison, Unite and GMB, which represent education support staff said: “Anything less than the current Pay and Grading Review will undoubtedly leave education workers in continuing conflict with the Education Authority and the Department of Education throughout the summer and into the new school year.

“With that in mind, the Joint Trade Unions will continue to apply all possible pressure including negotiations, lobbying and industrial action to achieve a just outcome.

“While each trade union is a sovereign body and will decide its own approach to an industrial action strategy, we recognise that it is in the interests of all education workers that we achieve maximum cooperation.”

They added: “Industrial action, both strike action and action short of strike action, will intensify in the run up to the summer.

“In addition, the Joint Trade Unions are engaged in discussions about co-ordinated action in September.”

NIPSA bus drivers will strike on May 20, 21 and 22, along with June 3 and 4.

The union’s deputy general secretary said workers in education “have been pushed into poverty and urgently need these issues addressed”.

He added: “Unless there is justice for education workers we are facing intensified action in the run up to the summer and a storm of industrial strife in September”.

Meanwhile, Unite education workers are also to strike from May 20-22, while GMB members will take to picket lines on May 20 and 21.

An Education Authority (EA) spokesperson said: “We very much recognise the disappointment and frustration of our support staff that, as a result of significant financial pressures facing the Executive, the budget allocation did not provide a specific funding allocation to meet the costs of the Pay and Grading review.

“We note that the Executive has agreed that the Finance Minister should seek Treasury approval to reprofile funding to address this issue and we await an outcome to that approach.”

They added the EA will “work closely with schools to try and mitigate the impact of the strike action as far as possible”.

The Department of Education has been approached for comment.