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Strike: School pick-ups for parents in middle of day

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MANY parents will be forced to pick up their children from school in the middle of the day on Monday when teaching assistants go on strike.

Civil Servant strike in Liberation Square in December

And Condor ferry sailings to and from St Malo will be rescheduled and rerouted via Guernsey to allow passengers to arrive in Jersey after clearing Customs in St Peter Port as Customs officers strike all day on Monday.

Public-sector strikes are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, with disruption expected for parents.

The majority of primary schools will be shut during the lunch break on Monday, with only Jersey College Preparatory School, La Moye, St John, St Lawrence, St Martin, St Peter, St Saviour and Trinity remaining open throughout the day. La Sente and Mont à l’Abbé secondary school will also be partly closed on Monday.

Tuesday’s industrial action will force Mont à l’Abbé school, as well as St Peter and St Saviour primary schools, to close during lunchtime.

Parents are being advised to contact the schools for exact closing times and a full list of closures is available on the JEP website.

Customs and Immigration officials will be striking all day on Monday, while teaching assistants will be walking out between 11.30 am and 2 pm, meaning there will not be enough lunchtime cover in schools. The following day, civil servants are due to stage a walk-out.

Nurses could soon join the industrial action, with the Royal College of Nursing union seeking to begin a consultation on potential action after rejecting the States latest pay award.

In a letter to parents, Victoria College Prep head teacher Dan Pateman said: ‘Due to insufficient staff to cover the safety and supervision of children during the lunch break, we will have to close the school during the lunchtime period on Monday 14 January.

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‘This will mean that parents will need to pick up their children during the day and drop them back to the school at a specified time.

‘Parents will appreciate my main priority is for their child’s safety at school. I must ensure that there are safe levels of supervision and that first-aid-trained staff are available. I also need to ensure that all risk assessments are taken into account.’

The public-sector pay dispute has shown no signs of being resolved, with civil servants angry at the pay awards offered by the States Employment Board. The SEB have consistently said that there is no money available to make increased offers.

Lindsay Meeks, RCN regional director, said the Jersey branch would now be seeking approval from the RCN council to start industrial action.

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She said: ‘The board will meet within five working days to discuss the branch application. Mediation between the unions and the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service will happen in tandem and the RCN is committed to seeing this process through to its conclusion. Members wanted to send a clear message to the States that they had had enough and urged them to make the mediation talks meaningful.’

Meanwhile, Jersey’s head teachers were due to meet to discuss their next steps after the members of the Jersey Association of Headteachers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

With Customs officers on strike on Monday, the two sailings from St Malo to Jersey are being combined into one 11.50 am sailing and will have to arrive via Guernsey to allow Jersey passengers to clear Customs in St Peter Port. The revised routing will therefore see Condor Liberation operate from Jersey to St Malo, St Malo to Guernsey, Guernsey to Jersey, Jersey to Guernsey and then on to Poole.

Condor chief executive Paul Luxon said: ‘We are disappointed that the action being taken at such short notice is affecting the travel of our passengers.

‘Condor is endeavouring to offer our customers the best possible alternative options in face of this disruption through third-party industrial action.’

No other Condor sailings are affected by the industrial action and the company is working with Ports of Jersey to minimise the disruption.

Ports of Jersey have confirmed that no flights to and from the Airport are affected by Monday’s action and are advising passengers not to change their original travel plans.

A States spokesperson said: ‘During the planned strike action on Monday there will be some Customs cover at Jersey’s borders, both air and sea. This will include an enhanced police presence and other contingencies. For operational reasons we won’t be providing any more details about those contingencies.’

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