The number of teachers in Northern Ireland could be reduced if Government plans to introduce regional pay get the go ahead, a union has claimed.
The stark warning comes as the Government assesses public sector pay across the UK.
Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has asked the body which advises ministers on teachers’ pay to look at the issue.
It would be included in Government plans to introduce regional pay for public sector workers across the UK.
But teaching unions here are unhappy with the proposals, saying Northern Ireland teachers will be worse off.
They say it will have an adverse impact on staff and schools, with teachers choosing to move to other, better paid, areas of the UK.
“We are one of the areas that would be affected the most,” said NASUWT regional organiser Seamus Searson.
“In Northern Ireland, our teachers are very committed to being teachers and it is regarded as a good career,’’ he said.
“If you start to attack the pay levels, you are in a situation where people say, ‘why should I go into teaching, I'll go into something else’.”
The issue of regional pay was first raised by Chancellor George Osborne, prompting wide-scale criticism from public sector unions.
Teachers, like other public sector workers in the UK, have nationally agreed rates of pay.
It means that teaching staff in different parts of the UK who are on the same grade, will earn roughly the same amount, except for the ‘London weighting’.
Previously, the chancellor suggested public sector workers could be paid a rate which was in line with local levels.
He said this could be a possible way of stimulating the private sector.