28/11/2011

Parents Warned Over School Strike Disruption

This week's public sector strike has now led to parents being advised that the principal of each school should be able to notify them in advance of the impact of industrial action planned for 30 November.

In advance of a mass walkout on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Department of Education said: "Industrial action planned for 30 November may have an impact on local schools.

"In order to help parents and guardians be prepared for the day, the Education and Library Boards have written to all grant-aided schools asking principals to inform parents and guardians of the potential impact on their child's school.

"Principals have been asked to advise on whether the school will be open on the day and, if their school will remain open, what effect there may be to transport and school meals services," said a statement.

"Many schools have already informed parents and guardians of the impact which is enabling them to make alternative arrangements where appropriate.

"Parents should appreciate that individuals in schools and support services such as school transport who intend to strike are not obliged to declare their intention in advance and therefore the full impact of the strike may not become apparent until the day.
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"The guidance from the Education and Library Boards, however, asks principals to communicate with parents at the earliest opportunity," the Department said.

Meanwhile, some MLAs will be at work on Wednesday while others may not.

After the DUP slammed the union initiative and said the public sector strike on Wednesday could cost the economy an estimated £500m, the party has said its Assembly members will be at work as usual on Wednesday.

East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross made the comments after Sinn Fein Education Minister John O'Dowd said he would not cross the picket line during the strike and the SDLP said none of its MLAs would cross the picket line either.

However, Mr O'Dowd said he supported the strikers but appreciated the disruption it would cause while Mr Ross said the trade unions' approach would "damage the economy".

He said it was regrettable that they had decided to opt for a "show of strength" rather than engaging with the Stormont Executive on the issues.

Thousands of teachers and public sector workers plan to walk out on 30 November over cuts to pensions and budgets.

Ulster Unionists said it respected the right to strike but hoped that Stormont would continue to function to full capacity on Wednesday.

(BMcC/GK)

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