Teachers preparing for second walk out over pay
THOUSANDS of teachers are to walk out on strike again this week as part of a long-running pay dispute.
Members of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) are also planning to protest at Stormont.
It is the second time the 7,000-strong union has staged strike action.
All main teaching unions are angry, having rejected a pay offer that would see staff receive no across the board pay rise for 2015/16, and a 1 per cent cost of living uplift for 2016/17.
Hundreds of schools from all sectors are expected to be affected by Thursday's action. Members of other unions, who are also involved in industrial action, will refuse to cover for their absent INTO colleagues.
This half day strike will begin at 12.30pm and is expected to result in class or whole school closures.
INTO northern secretary Gerry Murphy said the decision to go for an afternoon as opposed to a morning stoppage was to allow time for members from across the north to make their way to Stormont.
The date was selected, he said, because it was towards the end of the three weeks talks window involving the main political parties.
"The location for the mass rally, Stormont, has been chosen to make the issue of teachers' pay unavoidable for the politicians, who will be in Stormont Castle for the talks," Mr Murphy said.
"It is vital that as many INTO members as possible make their way to Stormont."
The Education Authority has said employers have been disappointed by the industrial action. Chief Executive Gavin Boyd said it was difficult to see what could be achieved by action other than a loss of pay by teachers and disruption for schools, pupils and parents.
Meanwhile, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has urged its members to ignore a request from the EA to carry out an end of financial year `stock take'.
The EA told principals that this was a "new year-end process" in which "each individual item of stock should be physically counted and the details recorded on the stock count sheet". This can include items such as printer toner, envelopes, copy paper, pens and folders.
"Diligent schools will have their own stock-take processes in place," said ATL director Mark Langhammer.
"ATL principals are advised, under the terms of our boycott of new initiatives within our current industrial action on `needless accountability, scrutiny, administration and bureaucracy' not to undertake this onerous, overwrought and needless process.
"Counting Lego bricks, envelopes, cleaning cloths, hole punches, pens, desk accessories and the like, in the face of the current budgetary crisis, smacks of fiddling whilst Rome burns."