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Rally's theme clear-cut: 'we've had enough'

By Donna Deeney

Members of the NASUWT union from across the north west said "enough is enough" as they staged a one-day strike in a protest over pay.

Around 100 teachers from schools across Londonderry gathered at a rally in St Columb's Hall, where they were joined by Assembly election candidates Mark H Durkan of the SDLP, Raymond McCartney of Sinn Fein and Eamonn McCann of People Before Profit.

Susan Parlour, head of the English department at St Cecilia's College in Derry, is president of the NASUWT in Northern Ireland.

She said support for strike action within schools was strong.

"Teachers have had enough. This cannot continue; the erosion of our pay, our workload is phenomenal, and we need to stand firm on this and say: 'No, enough is enough'," she said.

"It is a myth that we are well-paid. We are not a well-paid profession, and it is also a myth that we work from 9am to 3pm and that's the end of our working day. We are working 60 hours a week and, since 2011, we have lost £64 in total take home pay per month.

"This is completely unsustainable, and if we continue to take it, what are we going to face next - the imposition of a pay cut?"

Marie McCloone, from Ardnashee School in Derry, said: "It is very important that people realise that the pay rise that teachers here were supposed to get was taken by the Education Minister and put back into resources.

"It is a disgrace that he felt the need to do that without consulting us, and the fact that he pitted teachers against students by saying if we cared enough about students we wouldn't mind the money going back in was awful."

Christopher Kerrigan, a teacher in St John's Primary school in Derry, has been in the profession for six years. He explained: "I haven't had a pay increase in the six years I have been teaching so that is why I think it was important to take strike action, and it is why it was also important to come to this rally.

"The inequality and injustice across the teaching workforce was demonstrated in the 0% we were offered in comparison to our colleagues in the rest of the UK, it was a massive insult to us.

"We are happy to work for our pupils, but that needs to be recognised in your pay and in your terms and conditions.

"We don't want to be striking, but we want our voices heard in Stormont."

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