Strike ‘Threat To Future Of Special Needs Children’

The ongoing classroom assistants’ strike may cause “serious disruption to the education of children who attend special schools”, charity Disability Action has claimed.

The Ulster-based charity also said it feared the strike may have even have a “detrimental and long term effect, not only on [special needs children’s] learning, but also on their quality of life”.

The claim comes as hundreds of classroom assistants carried out a rally at Stormont on the 14th day of their strike.

Yesterday represented the second day of strike action this week by NIPSA’s 3,000 classroom assistants – and they plan to continue to go on strike for two days each week, at least until Christmas.

The next strike action will take place on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

So far NIPSA is the only union to have taken industrial action in the dispute over pay and conditions.

In a statement released yesterday Disability Action said they have been contacted by a number of parents of disabled children to express their frustrations and concerns.

NIPSA representative Alison Millar yesterday called on the Education Minister Caitriona Ruane, the education boards and the Assembly Executive to “resolve this dispute once and for all”.

When asked about the concerns of parents of special needs children, Ms Millar said: “We had a meeting of a number of classroom assistants and their representatives on Monday and we took a ballot on this issue.

“Everybody in the room said the strike would be ineffective, given that 80 per cent of classroom assistants work with special needs children, if we exempted the classroom assistants who work in special needs from strike action.

“Those classroom assistants do not want to be out on strike. I have had many of them in tears over this.”

Ms Millar said the classroom assistants’ strike will keep going “until they all get satisfaction”.

“We have two days every week until Christmas in strike action. But that is not to say it will finish at Christmas.”