IMPACT wins agreement on SNA post arrangements

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’ Sullivan TD, issued an invitation to unions and management to discuss the issue of SNA post fragmentation.
Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’ Sullivan TD, issued an invitation to unions and management to discuss the issue of SNA post fragmentation.

IMPACT has finalised an agreement with the Department of Education and Skills on a revised circular to deal with our dispute over the fragmentation of special needs assistants (SNA) posts. The agreement follows a ballot for industrial action by SNAs in March this year.

Subsequently, the Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’ Sullivan TD, issued an invitation to unions and management to discuss the issue when she addressed IMPACT’s Education divisional conference in April.In a letter to SNA branch secretaries this week, assistant general secretary Dessie Robinson explained that the union ballot sought a firm commitment from the department that no SNA would have their working hours or income reduced, once there is work available in the school as determined by the NSCE allocation, and prior to any new member of staff being recruited to the school.

Dessie added, “The Education Divisional Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday 10th June 2015 received an update on the negotiations and expressed the view that the terms of the industrial action ballot had been met. The Department of Education and Skills placed a revised circular on its website on Friday 12th June in advance of the announcement of the allocations for the 2015/2016 school year.”

Dessie further explained that there will be some situations where the Special Needs Assistant allocation to the school is reduced because of particular circumstances. “In such situations affected SNAs should ensure that the supplementary assignment arrangements are complied with so that the SNA has the opportunity of alternative employment” he said.

Circular

The new circular states that if a school or Education and Training Board (ETB) has an additional allocation of SNA hours or posts, “that additional allocation of hours/posts must be offered to any existing part-time SNAs in that employment, in order of seniority”, before the employer has recourse to the arrangements for assigning SNAs.

“In essence, this means that before an employer opts to recruit a further person as an SNA(s), they must ensure that all existing part-time SNAs in their employment, in order of seniority, have been offered a full-time position in the school or, in the case of ETBs, a full-time position within the ETB scheme” it states.

The circular also states that the offer of a position is “subject to the SNA undertaking the full duties of the post, including any training or upskilling. If a part-time SNA turns down the opportunity of a full-time position and/or there are additional SNA hours/posts remaining, then the employer can fill the vacancy.”

Exceptions

Dessie said that the department has indicated to IMPACT that the only exceptions will involve cases where there are genuine grounds for an alternative approach in the interests of a child or children. “In these instances any SNA affected by this should receive a written explanation provided by the NCSE/SENO. Any SNA who finds himself/herself in this situation should immediately contact IMPACT so that the union can validate that the circumstances are indeed exceptional and the case is genuine” he said.