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Antrim - Event Notice
Wednesday December 05 2007

Classrooom Assistants Betrayed - Where to now?

category antrim | worker & community struggles and protests | event notice author Tuesday December 04, 2007 12:25author by Paddy - Socialist Partyauthor email socialistpartyni at btconnect dot com Report this post to the editors

SP Public Meeting
Classroom Assistants Betrayed!
Where to Now?

8pm Wed 5th Dec
Socialist Party Offices
13 Lombard St

SP Public Meeting
Classroom Assistants Betrayed!
Where to Now?

8pm Wed 5th Dec
Socialist Party Offices
13 Lombard St

Janette Murdock
- Classroom Assistant
Patrick Mulholland
- SEELB Strike Committee member
Pat Lawlor
- 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.

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author by SPpublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you need any direction please send an e-mail to

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author by solidarity seekerpublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have been posting on the merits of solidarity among workers, to my mind the reasoning behind having an organisation such as ICTU. However the goal of solidarity can not obscure the primary aim of any trade union, to defend it's members. If other unions behave in such a way as to stab fellow workers in the back they must be exposed. If ICTU isn't prepared to denounce such action then it must be exposed as a toothless, spineless, collection of wasters.
Has anyone challenged Peter Bunting as to what action he has taken after being presented with a GMB ballot paper an eduction worker who wasn't a classroom assistant had received?

author by Scrabble Towerpublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 16:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry to hear that about Pat. It is typical of the yes union that a hard working activist is suspend while others in his union back stab thier members. I can think of many others who would be better of suspended.

author by full support - sppublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 23:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Would like to thank all classroom assistants for their struggle and to encourage them to continue their fight through the proper channels of their trade union NIPSA. Nipsa and its officials should be proud they have supported and fought for all classroom assistants throughtout this dispute and all classroom assistants should thank John Corey personally for his hard work and thank him as he is now seeking to expose the disgraceful manner of GMB and Unison throught the proper channels the court...we must hold our heads high and fight this battle legally without the press thinking all unions are fighting among themselves, this only takes away from Catronia and the employers shameful behaviour.

author by annmariepublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 00:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would personally like to thank the Officials at NIPSA especially Mr Corey and am proud to be part of a union that has fought and is continuing to fight for us. When Mr Corey gets up to speak we know it is from the heart and that he will continue to do his best for us.

author by Jane - Classroom Assistantpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 13:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would also like to thank Mr Corey, he has put a lot of hard work and effort into this dispute, without his imput we wouldnt have had the knowledge and help that all Nipsa officials gave us. Im proud to be in Nipsa and especially thank Alison Millar our offical who has visited our school and kept us all informed, I also agree the best way is now through the courts.

author by Emma - classroom assistantpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 15:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is sad the way some of the unions behaved,I can only hope they will learn from this.John Corey and Nipsa are the only ones who have fought for us.We might still have had the deal imposed even if the other unions had fought together with us but at least we could have made it more difficult for them,it should not have been left to one decent and honourable union to do it all.The legal route is maybe the only way to go now,I suppose.

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