Northern Ireland schools proposal disappoints unions

UNISON Northern Ireland head of bargaining and representation Anne Speed today described news that a newly-formed Education and Skills Authority (ESA) will offer all schools the right to be employers as “a good deal for politicians, but a bad one for staff in the education sector.”

The Department of Education is currently proposing a bill that will create the ESA.

And in a change of direction, the department has added the right for all schools to be the employer, as long as non-teaching staff are afforded official conditions and rates, and pupils are provided with a high standard of education.

“This is very disappointing news,” said Ms Speed. “It is the strongly held view of UNISON and the trade union sector that this is definitely not the way to go. It seems the interests and concerns of workers have been set aside in favour of a political compromise.

“It is hard to see how our members’ terms and conditions will be protected in the future. This concession will give employers the opportunity to break from official rates and go down the road to privatisation in order to take pressure off school budgets.”

A newly drafted bill is likely to be presented to the Northern Ireland Executive in September.

“We will be scrutinising this paper and closely monitoring how the minister plans to protect our member’s terms and conditions,” Ms Speed said.

UNISON Northern Ireland

UNISON in education