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Teachers to strike in Northern Ireland as talks fail over 'pitiful' pay offer

By Rebecca Black

Published 22/10/2016

Chris Keates
Chris Keates
Gerry Murphy

The largest teachers' union in Northern Ireland has announced its members will go on strike next month.

The NASUWT revealed that its National Action Committee has approved a rolling programme of strike action across Northern Ireland, commencing at the end of November 2016.

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It comes after negotiations with the Education Authority (EA) over pay rates collapsed without agreement.

The union has not yet announced details of the strike action.

However, the second biggest union, INTO, said it is continuing to consider its options.

Last week the unions walked out of teacher pay negotiations with the EA following discussions which lasted almost 13 months.

The unions were offered a 0% increase for 2015-16 and 1% for 2016-17. This has been rejected by the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council (NITC), which comprises the five recognised teacher unions.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said employers and the Department of Education have "failed to recognise and address the serious concerns of teachers over pay, workload and job loss".

"The final straw, adding insult to injury, is that after months of so-called negotiations, the employers have belatedly put zero per cent on the table for teachers for 2015-16," she said.

"Teachers' pay in Northern Ireland is now not only failing to keep pace with trends in the graduate labour market, it is also failing to keep up with teachers across the UK, who have at least had the one per cent funded by the Treasury.

"The NASUWT is putting employers on notice that unless they come forward with a pay award for 2015-16, and unless the Department of Education agrees to genuine engagement to seek to resolve the NASUWT's trade dispute, they will be responsible for forcing the dedicated and committed teachers of Northern Ireland to demonstrate their anger through strike action."

INTO Northern Secretary, Gerry Murphy, said: "The INTO union continues to consider its options following the pitiful pay offer. The Northern committee has met once already and is considering what positive steps it can take to resolve the crisis unfolding over teachers' pay."

A spokeswoman for Education Minister, Peter Weir, stated: "Teachers' terms and conditions, including pay, is negotiated through the forum of the Teachers' Negotiating Committee (TNC), at which I am represented. It would therefore not be appropriate for the Department to provide comment."

The EA did not respond.

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