EA welcomes the news that Translink Management and Unions have agreed to defer planned strike action. Unfortunately, some education services will still face disruption due to further strike action by Unite by Union, which is scheduled to commence Tuesday 26 April to Sunday 1 May and Tuesday 3 May to Sunday 8 May. Whilst the majority of school, youth and other EA services are expected to operate as normal or with minimal disruption due to contingency plans in place, we are expecting some disruption to EA home to school transport (yellow bus) services, some school meal services and the strike action is also likely to impact on the availability of some Classroom Assistants, particularly in Special Schools. It is anticipated that the main areas of disruption for home to school transport will be in the greater Belfast area; Lisburn & Castlereagh, Antrim & Newtownabbey, Mid & East Antrim and Fermanagh & Omagh Council areas, with particular disruption expected to routes servicing Special Schools. There will also be localised disruption to services in other areas. This action is in relation to a national pay offer for Local Government staff working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which has been accepted by the majority of Trade Unions and is in the process of being paid to staff. Therefore, Local Government organisations, including EA, do not have the power or authority to renegotiate this for Northern Ireland. However, we will continue to engage collectively with all of our Trade Unions on local issues impacting on pay terms and conditions. We are continuing to request exemptions for Special School staff, and for transport staff transporting pupils to Special Schools. These requests have not been accepted to date. We firmly believe these requests to be reasonable and valid and remain unclear about the basis for them being rejected by Unite given the impact on some of the most vulnerable children. We are also working to implement a range of contingency measures and are partnering closely with all schools, including Special Schools, to minimise disruption for children and young people as we very much recognise the impact this will have on pupils, schools and families, particularly in the run up to exams. Parents are encouraged to follow EA’s social media channels and website for regular updates and begin making plans for alternative transport arrangements. Please visit www.eani.org.uk/industrialactionupdates and our social media channels.
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