More than 700 workers employed by the Education Authority in Northern Ireland have begun seven days of strike action as of 15 June over a pay dispute.
A total of 94% of employees voted for industrial action, with school bus drivers, escorts and maintenance workers, catering staff, classroom assistants, playground supervisors, school administrative staff, cleaners, building supervisors and grounds maintenance staff taking part.
According to the workers, who are members of trade union Unite, the strikes are a result of the Department of Education not implementing or funding a pay and grading review as a result of a budget set for the Department by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
A Spokesperson for the Education Authority (EA) said: “As a result of planned Unite strike action, we are expecting some disruption. We are continuing to implement a range of contingency measures ahead of the strike action and are working very closely with all schools to minimise disruption for children and young people, particularly those children with special educational needs, as we very much recognise the impact this will have on pupils, schools and families.”
Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, added: “It is totally unacceptable education workers in Northern Ireland have been denied this improvement as a result of this punishing budget set by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This budget is not enough to maintain education services, let alone offer any protection to education workers in the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.”
Kieran Ellison, lead regional officer for Unite in the Education Authority workforce, said: “If we do not see any movement to improve the budget or deliver the pay and grading review, this strike is likely to escalate further in the new academic year. Responsibility for the impact that this strike will have resides squarely at the feet of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.”