Teachers demand five per cent cost-of-living pay rise

Teachers have already staged strikes in a dispute over pay. Picture by Hugh Russell

TEACHERS' unions have submitted a claim for a five per cent cost-of-living pay rise this year.

The Northern Ireland Teachers Council (NITC), which represents five unions, is making the demand of the Department of Education.

No cost-of-living increase has been approved for 2017/18.

Unions have taken strike action already over pay.

All main unions are angry, having rejected an 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.

Pay negotiations between the NITC and the employers stalled due to continuing industrial action, which also includes a refusal to cooperate with inspectors.

Teaching staff at the top of their scale can earn upwards of £50,000 in a single year.

Newly-qualified teachers will start off by earning £22,243 on the first point of the main scale. Staff progress automatically, whether or not their school has the extra money to cover the raise. After five years on the main scale, staff will progress to £32,509 and can then earn between £35,217 and £37,870 on the upper scale.

It is possible to move from the first to final point in 12 years.

In addition to basic salary, teachers can be awarded teaching allowances, which range from £1,903 to £12,272.

INTO northern secretary and NITC salary spokesman Gerry Murphy said the five per cent claim for 2017/18 was realistic.

"That pay claim is for five per cent, made up of a cost-of-living rise in line with inflation combined with the further one per cent they owe us for 2015/16 when teachers were not awarded a cost of living increase at all," he said.

"In common with other public servants, teachers have suffered a net loss in pay over a number of years due to austerity."

Ulster Teachers' Union general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan said classroom staff has reached "make or break time" due to a lack of cash in the system.

"Until now, most of the major cuts have been felt by the most vulnerable," she said.

"We have had to stand by and watch children with special needs lose their classroom assistants. We have had to watch as children struggle to stay in school because the funding isn't there to have their needs properly assessed in the first place.

"Going forward parents need have no doubt that their children will be affected. Those bearing the brunt of these cuts will no longer will be the vulnerable minority. As we come to the end of another term, another year, it is time to say enough."

The Department of Education said teachers were still being paid incremental pay increases.

"A cost of living increase has not yet been approved in 2017," a spokeswoman said.

"While the teaching unions have submitted a 2017 pay claim for a five per cent cost-of-living increase, management do not at this point have authority to negotiate on the claim which has been submitted, or to award any cost-of-living pay increase in the absence of pay policy for 2017 as this has not yet been set."

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