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INTO teachers' strike to go ahead

INTO northern secretary Gerry Murphy

TEACHERS plan to go ahead and stage their half-day strike this week in protest over pay - in spite of the situation at Stormont.

The 7,000-strong INTO union will walk out tomorrow morning.

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.

Education minister Peter Weir has already said there is no more money. He urged teachers to go back to the negotiating table and "accept that the pay offer they walked away from is not in a position to be improved upon".

Hundreds of schools from all sectors are expected to be affected by the INTO action. Members of other unions, who are also involved in industrial action, will refuse to cover for their absent INTO colleagues.

With teachers available again to work from 12:30pm, some parents have told the Irish News that their children will be expected to attend school for just one hour before having to be collected.

It had been hoped by parents that the union might reconsider its action in light of developments at Stormont. The union said it would go ahead, however, pointing out that an overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of strike.

Teachers will be picketing at school gates with a main Belfast rally taking place at Queen's University students' union.

Northern secretary Gerry Murphy said the action showed the strength of feeling among teachers who wanted a reasonable pay deal, felt undervalued "and who are trying their best, every day, to deliver the best education they can for the children of Northern Ireland".

"We have consistently made it clear that we have been available for further talks with the minister for education and the employing authorities," Mr Murphy said.

"However, in spite of our ongoing efforts, teachers have yet again been snubbed by the government and it's time those in power on the hill start listening to the people of Northern Ireland."

Teachers will be on strike again on January 31 when the NASUWT stages its second day of rolling action. Teachers at schools in Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh will be involved.

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