13 May 2005

BBC

Strike action over education cuts


Union members are protesting against education cuts

A strike by almost 12,000 education board workers is likely to cause massive disruption in schools and libraries across Northern Ireland.

Special schools dependent on classroom assistants and specialised transport are expected to be worst affected by the one-day strike.

Nipsa, Unison and T&G union members in the education sector voted to strike in protest at £30m cutbacks.

Education and library boards have blamed inadequate government funding.

Staff who are taking strike action include classroom assistants, catering staff, technicians, caretakers, and bus drivers and escorts.

Ten out of Belfast's 11 special schools will not be open for pupils.

Warned

Other mainstream schools, especially in rural areas, have warned that education board buses may not turn up for pupils.

Some schools will not have a canteen service and have told children to bring packed lunches.

A number of primary and nursery schools will not open but most secondary schools have predicted they will open as usual.

Some libraries will also be shut, with one board predicting that half of its branches would not open.

The new education minister, Angela Smith, said Friday's industrial action was "deeply regrettable".

She added that she wanted to meet all the key people in education as soon as possible.

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