'Extra hours' claim prompts threat of strike at school
A Dublin school for autistic children is facing strike action in a dispute over working hours.
Special needs assistants yesterday voted for industrial action after they received written warnings from management at Saplings School, Rathfarnham.
The row concerns the scheduling of time for the assistants to provide information on the pupils' daily progress. This process is known as charting.
The assistants, who are members of the Impact union, claim the school's board of management has made demands concerning these duties.
They claim the demands result in them being expected to work extra hours.
However, the school's board of management has refuted this claim and stated that the work can be carried out within the designated hours of the assistants' employment contracts.
An Impact spokesman said last night that the vote for industrial action covers a range of options for the assistants, up to and including strike action.
The spokesman said threats of dismissal received by individuals will be the subject of an appeal to be made by the union to the school's board of management on Monday.
A spokesman for the board said that the Department of Education, which provides funding for the private school, states it is necessary that a "nationally agreed set of grievance procedures" be invoked when a dispute arises.
He said the union should recommend to its members that the agreed procedures are followed.
The school, which is attended by 24 pupils, employs 15 special needs assistants and five teachers.
The board spokesman said that, on January 30, the assistants stopped charting the children's daily progress on tasks.
"It is a matter for the board to determine the working hours of special needs assistants in their employment," he said.