Pay rise for Northern Ireland teachers would lead to job losses, claims minister Weir
Allowing a pay rise for teachers could result in job losses, Education Minister Peter Weir has warned.
The DUP minister said there is simply no money left in his budget to allow for more pay increases.
Teachers' unions walked out of talks with employers earlier this year after they were unable to reach agreement.
Employers have offered no rise for last year and an increase of 1% for 2016-17.
The largest of the five local teachers' unions, the NASUWT, balloted for rolling strike action over the issue. The first of the strikes is due to take place in the Belfast and Newtownabbey areas on Wednesday, November 30.
Mr Weir is urging the suspension of the action.
"What is not actually recognised is that within the settlements for 2015-16 and 2016-17 there have been incremental pay increases which equate to about 1% on the pay bill," Mr Weir told the BBC's Sunday Politics show.
"Automatic incremental pay was stopped in England in 2013 so if equity is going to happen it has to happen across the board. What it means is every teacher below £37,500 will have got increments, they will see a rise in their salary.
"We are against a very tight budget, I would like across a range of things to be spending more money. I would like better pay on that basis, but there is a tight budget and we have got to deal with it in the reality of the situation.
"Across the last two years the net increase in terms of the pay bill has been 2.6%. That compares in a very similar way to what has happened elsewhere.
"Given at one stage NASUWT were calling for a 13% pay increase they have got to get to a realistic position. I think what we need to do is sit down and see what we can do in terms of 2017 onwards.
"There is room as we move forwards in the future - the reality is at present there is no more money.
"There is not money that is sitting in the department ready to be paid to teachers. The reality is if we inject additional cost into the system it is simply going to lead to redundancies."