Talks give hope for end of NI school strike

An end to a teaching strike which has left hundreds of Northern Ireland school pupils out of class may be in sight, the Stormont education committee claimed today.

Staff at Movilla High School in Newtownards, Co Down, walked out on Monday in a row over the alleged assault of a teacher by a pupil, with docking of pay after they refused to teach the child.

NASUWT union representatives have agreed to attend employer talks with mediators tomorrow and dropped pre-conditions, Assembly committee member Dominic Bradley added.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of talks we have had with the NASUWT today,” he said. “I would hope now that the good will of the NASUWT would be reciprocated by the South Eastern Education and Library Board in talks and hopefully we will see pupils returning to school by next Monday.”

Around 540 pupils arrived at the school on Monday but were sent home.

Education minister Caitriona Ruane and the education committee at Stormont have called for a resolution.

SDLP Assembly member Mr Bradley added: “The union has, as a gesture of good will, agreed to suspend their pre-conditions and there will be talks tomorrow morning between the board, the employers and the union at the Labour Relations Agency (in Belfast) and those talks begin at 11am.

“The industrial action will continue tomorrow but if the talks are positive and they go well, tomorrow could be the last day of the action.”

The board has supported the school governors' decision not to expel the pupil.

It said the matter was appropriately dealt with by governors.

Employers had told protesting teachers they would not be paid even if they taught other classes normally.

Another union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, had balloted its 10 members about refusing to teach the pupil in question.


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