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Education welfare officers in Armagh take to picket line in strike over pay parity

'Pay scales can differ by up to £5,000 yet the qualifications needed are the same'

Education welfare officers from across the Southern Trust went on strike last week over pay parity with colleagues in the health service.

The staff, who are employed by the Education Authority, were protesting on Thursday and Friday outside the authority’s headquarters in the Mall, Armagh.

Nipsa trade union representative Helena McSherry said education welfare officers (EWOs) are required to have the same qualifications as social workers, yet their pay scales can differ by up to £5,000 pa.

She said: “The Education Authority have difficulty recruiting and keeping staff because of this vast difference in pay, as well as attracting people to the profession.

“Education welfare officers play a very important role in supporting young people and they deserve pay parity.”

A large part of the EWO job involves working with pupils who have a poor attendance at school, to make sure they get the best education possible, as well as supporting pupils who are finding education challenging.

The strike action is taking place province-wide and last week protestors also took their message to Stormont.

Said Helena: “Management put a proposal to us a fortnight ago and we put a counter proposal to them. We will be having a meeting on Monday and hope they will come back to us with a proper offer.”

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