31/10/2008

Movilla Strike Suspended

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has welcomed the end of a three-week-long dispute at Movilla High School

Teachers have decided to suspend their industrial action, and will return to classes on Monday.

Staff took to the picket line after an alleged assault on a teacher at the school.

Further anger was sparked when wages were docked after union members refused to teach the pupil accused.

The boy at the centre of the controversy is not expected to return to the school next week.

His parent's involvement in resolving the dispute has been praised by Minister Ruane.

For almost two weeks the NASUWT teaching union and the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) remained at loggerheads.

The Minister said: "They (the boy's parents) have shown enormous courage and flexibility,
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"He will not be back at the school on Monday but I'm identifying an independent advisor as a matter of urgency.

"I want to make sure that this is resolved to everyone's satisfaction, but the important thing is that all sides say they will accept the recommendations of the independent assessment."

Others parents affected by the strike have cautiously welcomed today's news.

Karen Hawthorne said: "It's been very frustrating.

"Now, if there is anything between the union and the board that needs to be settled, this has to be settled, because we do not want to go back to these teachers walking out on strike again.

"It could very well be a possibility."

The agreement was signed at the Labour Relations Agency last night, after lengthy negotiations between the teachers' union and the SEELB.

Key points in the agreement centred on how the union would provide information to an independent assessor appointed to assess the needs of the pupil at the centre of the dispute.

(PR/JM)

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