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Teachers' strike brings day of disruption to Belfast schools

By Rebecca Black

Published 30/11/2016

Teachers protesting about pay levels in Belfast this month
Teachers protesting about pay levels in Belfast this month
Plea: Peter Weir

Education Minister Peter Weir last night made a last-ditch plea to teachers to call off a strike expected to cause major disruption today.

A large number of schools will be affected, with a small number set to close completely including Strathearn Grammar, Lagan College and St Mary's Christian Brothers Grammar. Other schools are open for sixth formers only, while some are planning to remain fully open, including Bloomfield Collegiate in east Belfast.

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Northern Ireland schools involved in November 2016 strike action [List]  

Ashfield Girls School in east Belfast said on its website that it will be open to Years 13 and 14 only.

The strike has been organised by teachers' union the NASUWT following a breakdown in negotiations with employers over pay.

Today's action will only affect Belfast and Newtownabbey, but the union says further strikes in other areas will follow.

Striking teachers will attend a rally at the Europa Hotel this morning at 10am.

Justin McCamphill from the NASUWT said: "No teacher has any wish to inconvenience parents or disrupt pupils' education, but this action is not the fault of teachers.

"The minister has been given the money to pay teachers the minimum of 1% for 2015-16.

"It is nothing short of scandalous that he does not think that paying teachers is important. Teachers have been left with no choice but to stand up to such a contemptuous attitude."

Last month all five main teacher unions in Northern Ireland rejected an offer freezing their pay in 2015/16 and raising it by 1% in 2016/17.

Today's strike is only by NASUWT members, but three other teachers' unions - INTO, UTU and ATL - will ballot their members next month for strike action.

Mr Weir expressed his regret.

"A day of strike will only result in the loss of a day's pay, effectively much of the 1% the unions are saying they are fighting for," he said. "I am therefore forced to conclude that union leaders are letting down their members by leading them into a cul de sac of industrial action which is futile rather than focusing on future negotiations."

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