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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Education Cuts

1997: Tony Blair said Education, Education, Education
2005: Tony Blair says, Cuts, Cuts, Cuts

Sean Smyth • 1 May 2005

Once again the most vulnerable in our society, the young and lowly paid, are being attack by New Labour. The direct rule minister for education operating from Stormont, Barrie Gardener, has imposed drastic spending cuts on the 5 education boards in Northern Ireland: this year £31.6 million will be wiped off school spending followed by larger cuts in 2006/07. These cuts will affect not only every education worker in Northern Ireland but every child.

The ongoing dispute between the government and the education boards over restructuring the boards' make up: "the government want the 5 boards amalgamated in to 1; the boards don't want change, claiming that the government want to reduce our education system to the poor standard of England." The non-teaching staff are faced with the loss of thousands of jobs, essential workers such as Classroom assistants, Cooks, Catering assistants, Janitors and maintenance workers, Cleaners, Canteen and Play Ground supervisors, School Bus drivers, and School Crossing patrols — most of these workers only get 16 hours work a week. Thus, any reduction in their hours will disable them to claim working families tax credits, forcing many workers on to the unemployment lines while enabling the privatising of the these essential services.

Teachers and children will also suffer greatly with classroom numbers rising while the number of classroom assistants will fall; special needs children will be forced into mainstream education without the help of special care teachers; services such as cross community programs to tackle sectarianism in Northern Ireland will be lost forever. This year the 5 Boards will cut spending on:

  • Maintenance £10.072.000
  • Efficiency £5.800.000
  • CASS £2.629.000
  • Special Education £3.474.000
  • Transport £1.703.000
  • School Catering £800.000
  • Price increase/cost recovery £3.299.000
  • Other £5.416.000

A total of £33.193.000. These figures are inclusive of some elements of savings already implemented in 2004/05 (source: Steering Group meeting on 26th January 2005, published by Staff Commission for Education and Library Boards Forestview. Purdy's Lane. Belfast BT8 7AR).

These unfair and unjust cuts on our already stretched education services will result in the total collapse of our education system, all because Tony Blair would rather bring our standard of education down to that of England rather than spend the money need to raise the English standard up to ours. While being able to find £70 Million for loyalist paramilitaries and wasting hundreds of millions on the discredited Stormont Assembly, and yet he's not found the money needed for our children's education.

The 4 main trade unions operating in the education system, T&G, GMB, NIPSA, and UNISON, have been left with no choice other than ballot their members for industrial action, and are scheduling a one-day strike on Friday 13th May. All parents should be persuading education workers in their child's school to vote positively for industrial action.

This strike is not about wages or terms and conditions as elements of the media have portrayed it, it's about your child's future education and the privatisation of school services.

The Northern Ireland Public need to know the truth about the dire straits the education system is in. To date, 32 Councillors have resigned from the education boards in protest at the reductions. This is not enough; our political parties must do better.

I would call on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to call on all education workers, all political parties, from anarchists to the DUP, parents, and students, onto the streets of every City, Town, and Village of Northern Ireland on May 13th, to stand hand in hand and join the fight, not only to defend our children's education: I remember when Snatcher Thatcher took the children's milk; Tony Blair and New Labour want to take their future.

This Saturday, the T&G launches their campaign against the education cuts. Join them at 11.30am outside Transport House, High St, Belfast.

Join them and send a clear message to Blair and the local political parties: OUR SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC SERVICES ARE NOT FOR SALE.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

2 May 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Daily Ireland: It's Not Over til It's Over
Mick Hall

Education Cuts
Sean Smyth

Rate My Teachers Blocked
Michael Hussey

* Election Coverage *

Greens Endorse McCann
John Barry and Kelly Andrews, Greens

Young People Are Not the Problem
Tish Murray Campaign Press Release

Liam Kennedy and West Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

Coulter's Choice
Dr John Coulter

Send Mitchel to London
Brian Mór

Flashback: A Coversation with Lindsay Whitcroft
Anthony McIntyre

29 April 2005

I Believe
Eamon Sweeney

Behaving Justly
Anthony McIntyre

Stop the Cover Up -- Give Us Peace
Kathleen Coyle

Justice Needs Done
Damien Okado-Gough

More Than Politics to NI Process
David Adams

Jude the Obscure Republican
Anthony McIntyre

Shared Ultra Conservatism
Dr John Coulter

* More Election Coverage *

Europe and the General Election
John O'Farrell




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