Education welfare workers will return to picket outside the Education Authority offices on Armagh Mall as NIPSA announced plans for its longest continuous strike action in the EA history.
NIPSA, the largest education non-teaching workforce union, has confirmed that members employed as education welfare officers will embark on a full 16-day strike from tomorrow (Tuesday) March 8.
Alan Law, Assistant Secretary (Acting), commenting on the planned strike, said: “Education Welfare Officers play an extremely important role in the education of children and young people. They help ensure that attendance levels improve and work with families to ensure this happens.
“There are long waiting lists to access an education social worker. As of January 31, 2022, 925 children and young people do not have their needs met by the School Authority.
“NIPSA regrets that the refusal of the Education Authority (EA) to meet the demand for payment is leading to increased wait times, NIPSA members want to provide for these vulnerable children and their families, but staff continue to be forced into industrial action while all other attempts to resolve this dispute have failed.
“As a result, NIPSA members are continuing their industrial action tomorrow and will take part in almost continuous strike action from March 8 to April 1.
“We remain ready to enter into meaningful negotiations to resolve this dispute and call on all education authorities to do the same.”
Around 130 Education Welfare Officers will take part in visible strikes at sites in Armagh, Omagh, Coleraine, Dundonald, Belfast, Newtownabbey and Derry/Londonderry.
The announcement comes after a two-day picket outside EA’s Mall East base last month.
NIPSA union representative Helena McSherry said Education Welfare Officers (EWOs) must have the same qualifications as social workers, but their pay scales can differ by up to £5,000 a year .
She said: ‘The School Authority is struggling to recruit and retain staff because of this large difference in pay, as well as attracting people to the profession.
“Education social workers play a very important role in supporting young people and they deserve equal pay.”
A large part of EWO’s work involves working with students who have low school attendance, to ensure they receive the best possible education, as well as supporting students who find education difficult.
This is an escalation of the strike, with protesters also having already delivered their message to Stormont.
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