Fragmentation of SNA posts ‘unacceptable’

Unions and management bodies need to come together to discuss the fragmentation of special needs assistant (SNA) posts, according to the Education Minister.

Fragmentation of SNA posts ‘unacceptable’

Speaking at the Impact trade union’s education conference, Jan O’Sullivan described this fragmentation as unacceptable.

The union represents almost 10,000 education workers in non-teaching positions.

Over the last few days, the Department of Education has written to management bodies, unions, and the National Council for Special Education asking them to come to the table for negotiations on the issue.


“Under the Education Act, I am required to consult with all relevant bodies before exercising my powers as minister and so I can’t simply issue a direction. I can, however, start a negotiation involving both unions and management bodies to find a solution,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“I know that your SNA members have recently voted to take industrial action. I’ve already spoken about my views on zero-hours and short-hours contracts. I think they are damaging to the lives of people working on them and ultimately I think they are bad for employers too.”

SNAs say the fragmentation of posts has resulted in a loss of working hours and income. Impact said this breaches the income-protection measures of the Haddington Road deal.

The chair of Impact’s education division, Gina O’Brien, said SNAs are entitled to the same safeguards as other public servants and deserve to have their hours and income protected.

“A lot of them already have had their hours reduced, some of them would be on half-time hours — some even less. So it is a problem for us. They are public servants, they should have the protection,” she said.


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