NI schools disruption still expected despite Translink strike suspension

The Education Authority says that it still expects disruption to some of its services next week despite Translink workers suspending their industrial action.

The EA has warned that strike action taking place from Tuesday, April 26, could impact some of its services with regards to home to school transport (yellow bus) services, school meal services and classroom assistants, particularly in special needs schools.

It has said that the disruption is likely to be greatest in the greater Belfast area; Lisburn & Castlereagh, Antrim & Newtownabbey, Mid & East Antrim and Fermanagh & Omagh Council areas. There will also be localised disruption in other areas.

Read more: Translink bus strikes suspended after new pay offer

Although the EA has welcomed the news that Translink and the unions have agreed to defer its planned strike action on Monday, April 25, which will mean that students will have access to their normal school transport.

An Education Authority spokesperson said: “EA welcomes the news that Translink Management and Unions have agreed to defer planned strike action which will allow pupils to access their normal school transport on Ulsterbus and Metro from Monday 25 April

“Unfortunately, disruption is still anticipated to some EA services as a result of the strike action being taken by Unite the union which is scheduled to commence Tuesday 26 April to Sunday 1 May and Tuesday 3 May to Sunday 8 May.

“This strike action is in relation to a national pay offer for Local Government staff working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which has been accepted by the majority of Trade Unions and is in the process of being paid to staff. Therefore, Local Government organisations, including EA, do not have the power or authority to renegotiate this for Northern Ireland.

“EA will however continue to engage collectively with all of our recognised Trade Unions on other separate local issues impacting on pay terms and conditions.

“Whilst the majority of school, youth and other EA services are expected to operate as normal or with minimal disruption due to contingency plans in place, we are expecting some disruption to EA home to school transport (yellow bus) services, some school meal services and the strike action is also likely to impact on the availability of some Classroom Assistants, particularly in Special Schools.

“It is anticipated that the main areas of disruption for home to school transport will be in the greater Belfast area; Lisburn & Castlereagh, Antrim & Newtownabbey, Mid & East Antrim and Fermanagh & Omagh Council areas, with particular disruption expected to routes servicing Special Schools. There will also be localised disruption to services in other areas.

“Further requests for exemptions for Special School staff, and for transport staff transporting pupils to Special Schools have been made and have been rejected by Unite. We firmly believe these requests to be reasonable and valid and remain unclear about the basis for them being rejected by Unite given the impact on some of the most vulnerable children.

“We are also working to implement a range of contingency measures and are partnering closely with all schools, including Special Schools, to minimise disruption for children and young people as we very much recognise the impact this will have on pupils, schools and families, particularly in the run up to exams.

“Parents are encouraged to follow EA’s social media channels and website for regular updates and begin making plans for alternative transport arrangements. Please visit www.eani.org.uk/industrialactionupdates and our social media channels.”

Read more: NI schools strike: Teaching union chief calls for pay dispute resolution as schools face strike disruption after Easter

Read more: Northern Ireland schools and other public services facing strike disruption after Easter

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