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'No more money' to boost teachers' wages, Stormont minister says

Published 15/11/2016

Peter Weir warned of the difficult pressures on the purse strings
Peter Weir warned of the difficult pressures on the purse strings

Stormont's Education Minister has said he has "no more money" to boost teachers' wages.

Appealing for members of the NASUWT to "show restraint" and not participate in planned strikes, Peter Weir warned that pay increases could lead to redundancies.

The minister said: "There has always got to be a balance to be struck between greater levels of pay and teachers losing their jobs.

"I don't have any additional money to throw at this particular issue."

Mr Weir was speaking during Question Time at the Assembly.

He also disputed claims that Northern Ireland teachers' pay lagged two years behind their counterparts elsewhere in the UK, adding that annual increments meant those with a salary under £37,500 had received a rise.

"We have got to deal with this in the degree objective facts," he added.

"There is a tough financial regime out there in terms of schools and the reality is that while I am sure there is a strong desire to see additional pay, the more we push up pay the more, in current position with school budget that is going to a greater level of further redundancies."

The NASUWT is one of the region's biggest teaching unions.

Members from more than 100 schools in Belfast and Newtownabbey are expected to stage a one-day strike later this month over pay, workload and job insecurity.

Teachers in other areas will take similar action early next year.

It is the first strike action by the NASUWT in five years and the stoppage could cause severe disruption and force the closure of some schools.

SDLP MLA, who raised the issue, said teachers in Northern Ireland were as equally dedicated and committed as counterparts in other parts of Great Britain.

Meanwhile, the NASUWT has hit back claiming the Minister's comments may serve to deepen teachers' anger.

General secretary Chris Keates, said: "This is an outrageous statement from the minister. He is talking about 'additional' pay when the fact is that teachers have had year-on-year pay cuts since 2011 and no pay award at all for last year.

"The minister risks turning Northern Ireland's education service into a second class system if he continues to allow teachers' pay to fall behind.

"What is even more appalling is that hard working teachers are now being threatened with the loss of their jobs simply for asking for a pay award for which the Assembly has been given funding."

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