General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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School strike 'abuse of rights'


20/10/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: BBC News

Children's Commissioner Patricia Lewsley has said the strike by 25 teachers at Movilla High School is an "abuse of children's rights".

The dispute arose over their pay being docked when they refused to teach a pupil they claim assaulted one of them.

Talks to resolve the issue have failed and the commissioner said the issue had been blown out of proportion.

"I have already offered to mediate in this dispute. That has been refused by the unions," she said.

"They have been in negotiations and I think that there is the possibility of a resolution if they were prepared to sit down and talk about it."

Peter Scott from the NASUWT, the union representing the 25 striking teachers, said he thought Ms Lewsley should have recognised the seriousness of the situation.

"Twenty-five teachers don't just take this sort of action, unless there is some reason for it," he said.

The South Eastern Education and Library Board said it deeply regretted that no resolution had been found to the dispute at the County Down school.

The teachers at the 540-pupil school in Newtownards have been striking since Monday, 13 October.

Talks at the Labour Relations Agency late last week failed to resolve the situation.

Representatives of the NASUWT said they put a proposal to the SEELB to resolve the dispute but had not been contacted by the board over the weekend.

The union said it had asked the board to make alternative arrangements for the pupil.

In a statement issued on Sunday the board confirmed that the school would remain closed on Monday.



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