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Half-day strike across north will lead to hundreds of schools being shut

The 7,000-strong INTO is planning a morning walk-out on January 18. Picture by Barry Batchelor, Press Association

A TEACHING union's decision to hold a half-day strike in the morning will see hundreds of schools shut.

The 7,000-strong INTO is planning a morning walk-out on January 18.

While most of the union's members work in Catholic maintained primary schools, it is expected to affect every sector, and all age groups.

All main unions are angry, having rejected a pay offer that would see teachers receive no across the board pay rise for 2015/16, and a one per cent cost of living uplift for 2016/17.

One - the NASUWT - has already had the first in a planned series of rolling strikes.

Unlike the NASUWT action, which focussed only on Belfast and Newtownabbey, all schools are expected to be affected by the INTO action.

Rather than tell children to stay at home in the morning and return in the afternoon, it is likely schools will simply shut for the day.

Ahead of this, the INTO, which has about 7,000 members, and the smaller Association of Teachers and Lecturers, also plan to stage action short of strike.

Both have backed a plan of non-co-operation with school inspections by the Education and Training Inspectorate. This will begin on January 6.

Now, the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) has said its members will also no longer be cooperating with school inspections from January 12.

The UTU revealed on Tuesday night that its 6,500 members had decided not to strike in protest at funding cuts and salaries.

UTU general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan said her union's action would not impact on children as teachers would continue to provide a full service.

"We chose take action on inspections as we believe the inordinate workload they create results in minimal outcome," she said.

"Sadly members feel they have no alternative but to step up their industrial action in a bid to highlight their strength of feeling about the current crisis in our education system.

"Seldom have I seen such strength of feeling, but it's galvanised this time by teachers' fears over what they see as the marching erosion of resources from classrooms which is potentially leaving exposed our most vulnerable children."

Unless something was done to address teachers' plummeting morale over pay and to address the future funding issues, she added, the situation would remain unresolved.

"Parents will appreciate that action comes as a very last resort and it's something we as a profession are loathe to do.

"However, having tried to appeal to the employers via other routes and been treated with contempt we feel we have no other option," she said.

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