Northern Ireland

Teachers and lecturers across NI set to take part in full-day of strike action

Teachers on the picket line outside Oakwood School and Assessment Centre in Belfast taking part in a 12-hour strike on February 21. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA
Teachers on the picket line outside Oakwood School and Assessment Centre in Belfast taking part in a 12-hour strike on February 21. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA

Thousands of teachers and lecturers across Northern Ireland are to strike for a full day on Wednesday.

The majority of schools across the north are expected to close with teachers from primary, post primary and special schools all expected to be involved in the stoppage.

While many will take to numerous picket lines at schools and colleges across the north, others are set to attend a rally outside Belfast City Hall at 1pm.

Members of the NASUWT, INTO, NAHT, UTU and NEU unions are involved in the walkout amid a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

A half-day strike was held in February, with members also taking part in coordinated action short of strike in schools, which has affected meeting attendance and administrative tasks.

NASUWT members who work in Further Education colleges in the north will, for the first time in the current dispute, also join their colleagues in schools in striking.

Ahead of the walkout, NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach reiterated calls for "a fair and decent pay award" for teachers and lecturers.

The union is calling for a fully funded 12 per cent pay award for 2022/23.

“Our members shouldn’t have to take industrial action simply to benefit from decent pay and working conditions," he said.

"However, they have been left with no choice but to take further strike action.

“It is not remotely acceptable for teachers and lecturers to see their pay cut in real terms when they facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes for decades.

“On the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it is about time that teachers in Northern Ireland were treated with dignity, respect and equality, and given the rewards they deserve.

“If MLAs won’t act, then our members will.”

In a video message to members, INTO president Dorothy McGinley said "we find ourselves in a unique position - for the first time all five teacher unions in the north will take to the streets together to fight for pay in education".

She also said that "7,200 voices of INTO members in the north will join our sister unions to stand up for our profession and the education sector".

"No teacher wants to take this action, but what choice do we have when our demands are being ignored," she added. 

"We value ourselves and we value our profession and we know the irreplaceable role we play in building the future of our society."

She added that "enough is enough, we deserve better, education deserves better".

The NAHT, which represents many school leaders, did not take part in the previous action on February 21. But on Wednesday, for the first time in its 125 year history, members will take strike action over pay.

The NAHT said on Monday that "although we had hoped the employers would not push us into this, we were always wholly prepared to carry through on the mandate of our members".

"Both the education employing authorities and local government are culpable, and have left school leaders with no other option".