The pressure forced education bosses to put the scheme and transport back in place for this summer. Unfortunately, one of the demands of the campaigners, that the Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane make more money available for the scheme, was not met. Instead, the cuts may shift to another area again hitting children, parents and workers.
Ruane and the Assembly politicians keep peddling the lie that education cuts can be made while protecting “frontline services”. In reality, the budget they want to cut is the money for special needs, school meals, school transport and cleaning – all of which are essential to the daily running of the schools. The administration staff she tries to make the public believe can be targeted in fact, only account for a tiny part of the education budget.
Trade unions have a duty to answer the politicians’ lies and get the message out that the budget is not enough, public services will suffer and our communities will be the poorer for it. Even more important, the trade unions must learn from the union reps who led the campaign for the summer scheme and raise their voices now to declare we will fight the cuts. Workers are waiting for their union leaders to fight – if they will not do so, then they must stand aside.