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Antrim - Event Notice
Wednesday December 05 2007
Classrooom Assistants Betrayed - Where to now?
antrim | worker & community struggles and protests | event notice Tuesday December 04, 2007 12:25 by Paddy - Socialist Party socialistpartyni at btconnect dot com
SP Public Meeting
SP Public Meeting
Classroom Assistants Betrayed!
Where to Now?
8pm Wed 5th Dec
Socialist Party Offices
13 Lombard St
- Classroom Assistant
- SEELB Strike Committee member
- suspended Unison nursing convenor Royal Victoria Hospital
NIPSA classroom assistants have fought a magnificent battle over many months to defend their pay and conditions. It appears now that assistants will have to employ new tactics to achieve their goals for the simple reason that their democratic vote to reject the deal on the table, and to take strike action, has been overturned by a disgraceful manoeuvre.
The fact that over 1000 assistants have joined NIPSA since it declared its vote for all-out strike is a clear indication of which union represents the views of a majority of assistants. NIPSA has 3200 classroom assistant members. The other unions probably have no more than 1000 between them. NIPSA is prepared to open its membership lists to public scrutiny. The other unions refuse to do so.
Despite the fact that they are in a minority the GMB and Unison have pretended otherwise and have organised to break the strike. Their actions are supported by the employers and Catriona Ruane. They have also been effectively supported in their strikebreaking by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Today’s action is a defiant and angry response to the GMB and Unison, to the Assembly, and to Catriona Ruane and Peter Robinson. NIPSA classroom assistants remain determined and united in their resolve to successfully conclude their dispute. The Socialist Party will continue to stand with the classroom assistants until they achieve their just demands.
For Democracy in the Unions
If one thing is clear in this dispute it is that the majority of working class people support the assistants. And of course the majority of Unison and GMB members support the assistants. The officials who run the GMB and Unison get away with their underhand tactics because they are unelected and unaccountable. They have no intention of taking on the employers and are more comfortable attacking their own members. In a particularly sharp expression of this last week Unison suspended Pat Lawlor from his position as nursing convenor at the Royal Victoria Hospital because of his outspoken support for the classroom assistants.
If union officials, of all unions, were paid the average wage of those they represent, and faced regular elections during which they would be obliged to defend their record, most of the current incumbents would be out on their ear. GMB and Unison members must organise to democratise their unions. NIPSA classroom assistants should insist that they control every aspect of decision making in their dispute. The unions belong to the members, not a few bureaucrats, and it is time to remind them of that.