Education news

Teachers due to stage school gate pickets across Northern Ireland in pay dispute

Avril Hall Callaghan, UTU general secretary

TEACHERS are to mount school gate pickets in response to an "insulting" pay offer from employers.

Unions rejected an offer that would see staff receive no pay rise for 2015/16, and a one per cent cost of living uplift for 2016/17.

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) and Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) now plan to protest in public.

Members in secondary schools will hold lunchtime pickets on November 8, while their primary colleagues will do the same after school on the same day.

The NASUWT union, meanwhile, has said it plans to hold rolling strike action but so far has not shared any dates.

In a joint statement, the UTU and INTO said they had not ruled out strike action.

UTU general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan said the two unions were "being forced to make this very public protest on November 8 to raise awareness about the crisis situation".

"The fact that teachers are prepared to picket the gates of their schools shows just how serious the situation has become. It is dire and we must ensure that parents appreciate the crisis in the education system in which they place their faith, and their children, every day," she said.

"Those children are at the heart of everything teachers do and it is only because of this that teachers have kept the education system functioning to date. It has been running on little more than teacher goodwill for some time now.

"The employers have been taking for granted teacher goodwill and teachers have had enough. Picketing their school gates, raising the issue directly with parents, is a necessary first step to inform them of the crisis unfolding over teachers' pay and to ask them to support teachers by lobbying their MLAs on the issue."

The unions are also asking governors to write to education minister Peter Weir about "the dire funding situation which has resulted in no salary increase for teachers for last year".

Mr Weir has said management brought forward a package that was "realistic and still allows teaching staff to progress along the pay scale, in addition to a cost of living increase".

"That offer was rejected outright by the unions as were, I understand, earlier and higher offers," he said.

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