UNISON Northern Ireland

UNISON responds to planned cuts by the Education Authority


Today (22nd August 2018) the BBC has reported that the Education Authority (EA) has written to the Department of Education setting out its initial budget plans for 2018/19 and suggesting a range of cuts to services, including removing school crossing patrols, withdrawing uniform allowances and compulsory redundancies in schools.


Responding to these reports, UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said:


‘‘We believe that this is a cynical attempt by the EA to pave the way for sweeping cuts in education by using the current political vacuum as an excuse to revive old attempts at cuts that have previously been defeated by us.  We are deeply concerned by the reported content of this letter which suggests that children and UNISON members will continue to suffer under further austerity measures in our education system. 


To remove school crossing patrols raises serious issues of child safety.  To suggest that this is the responsibility of other Government Departments or agencies when many crossing patrol staff also work as school supervisory assistants, and both services are clearly the responsibility of education, is a despicable attack on the women and men providing a vital service.  Such a proposal calls into question the competence of either the senior officers of the EA or its Board.  


It is unacceptable that UNISON and our members who would be directly affected by the removal of school crossing patrols or any compulsory redundancies first hear of these proposals in media reports today.  We will not tolerate such a blatant disregard for workers’ rights and will now challenge the EA on several fronts.


This is not the first occasion as a recognised Trade Union representing staff that we have been denied the opportunity to consult with our members, represent their interests and influence decisions before they are taken and such actions by the employer have not worked in the past and will not work now.  

We are also deeply concerned that the BBC report suggests that uniform allowances may be withdrawn.  To do so would considerably harm working class families, including the many workers who are living on or below the poverty line and who already struggling to meet the costs of providing school uniforms for their children.

Children living in poverty already experience serious inequalities in educational outcomes and removing supports such as these will do nothing to make the situation better.  Any proposal to withdraw school uniform allowances cannot be justified.

It is clear that our education system is suffering from a sustained funding crisis.  However rather than managing further austerity or seeking cover from the Department of Education for proposals such as these, we call on the EA to instead demand the resources that the education system needs.  The EA must ensure that the system provides a high quality education for our children and protects and strengthens the role of all staff.

The EA must move urgently to clarify the position on these issues and we demand that it engage with us immediately in line with our agreed industrial relations processes.  This should include the EA disclosing any equality impact assessment that has been conducted in relation to these proposed cuts, which must show that they will impact negatively on children and UNISON members.’’