SNA allocations breach Haddington Road deal

Tuesday 16th July 2013

IMPACT has accused the education department of being “fundamentally at odds” with the terms of the Haddington Road agreement (HRA) by implementing special needs allocations in ways that have significantly reduced incomes for many special needs assistants (SNAs).

The union has raised the issue with the HRA implementation body and is seeking an early hearing in the Labour Relations Commission under new HRA dispute resolution procedures.

IMPACT official Dessie Robinson said full-time posts were being fragmented. “While the same number of SNAs was allocated, in many cases their hours have been reduced significantly. This represents a loss of income and a reduction in service,” he said.

In a letter to the education department yesterday, Mr Robinson said there were cases where full-time SNAs had seen their working time reduced to eight hours. “Their financial difficulties will be compounded by the fact that they are expected to carry out their eight hours over five days, which leaves them ineligible to claim social welfare,” he said.

Mr Robinson also raised concerns that a supplementary assignment manager has not yet been appointed to oversee redeployment arrangements, and that no panel has been established to allow SNAs check where they are placed.

Earlier, and at IMPACT’s insistence, the education department agreed supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs ahead of the new school term in September. The new arrangements will maximise alternative employment opportunities for SNAs whose positions were closed at the end of the last school term.

The union insisted on the move when it became clear that a comprehensive redeployment scheme, which the union won under the Haddington Road agreement, would not be in place on time.

The department has established a dedicated address for SNAs who have questions about the assignment arrangements. SNAs can also get local IMPACT contact details HERE.

Meanwhile, IMPACT supported a protest at Leinster House last month, when SNAs and parents of children with special education needs called on education minister Ruairi Quinn to address the growing need for classroom care.