Belfast Telegraph

Over 100 schools hit by strike as teaching unions resume pay talks

By Rebecca Black

A teachers' union staged strike action at more than 100 schools across the western half of Northern Ireland - just hours before meeting management for further talks on pay and conditions.

The NASUWT carried out the second of its rolling strike actions yesterday at schools across the Londonderry, Strabane, Omagh, Mid Ulster and Enniskillen areas, claiming it would affect around 140 schools.

Last night the Education Authority was unable to confirm how many schools had been forced to close due to the walk outs. A number of secondary schools such as Lumen Christi were open only for sixth form pupils.

This morning the NASUWT, along with the four other unions which make up the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council, are preparing for another session of talks with management, including the Education Authority.

These talks only resumed on an exploratory basis in January after the unions walked out of 13-month-long talks with management in October in anger at the pay offer they received. Management offered a 0% rise for 2015/16 and 1% for 2016/17.

Yesterday was the second of a series of strikes organised by the NASUWT, following on from the first day of action in the Belfast and Newtownabbey areas last November. Teachers belonging to the INTO union also staged a half-day strike on January 18.

Members of two other Northern Ireland teaching unions - UTU and ATL - have voted for industrial action short of striking in response to the pay dispute.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has expressed concerns over industrial action by a number of teacher unions where members will not co-operate with school inspectors.

Unions have expressed anger at additional demands placed on members from school inspections, which are carried out by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI).

The NAHT has warned: "Incomplete inspections do not lead to accurate evaluations. Such inaccuracies ultimately serve to devalue the safety of children."

It recommended that schools write to the ETI asking for inspections to be deferred.

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