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Ulster Teachers' Union set to ballot members on strike action

A Northern Ireland teaching union is set to ballot its members on Monday on strike action.

The vote by members of the Ulster Teachers' Union tomorrow (Monday) comes just days after the largest teaching union locally staged a one day strike.

Teachers' strike brings day of disruption to Belfast schools

The NASUWT calls its members in the Belfast and Newtownabbey areas out on strike last Wednesday. The disruption caused several schools to close.

The action affected 77 schools in Northern Ireland, the Education Authority has said.

The union has threatened more strikes across other areas of Northern Ireland unless employers offer teachers more money.

In October, all five main teaching unions in Northern Ireland rejected an offer which saw their pay frozen in 2015/16 and a rise of 1% in 2016/17.

INTO has indicated it will be balloting its members on strike action.

Tomorrow (Monday) the UTU will ballot its 6,500-plus members.

The move follows their school-gate pickets last month (November) to highlight the "crisis situation" facing the education system.

“There exists among teachers a strength of feeling about this that has been seldom seen before. I cannot stress enough the crisis situation our system faces,” said Avril Hall Callaghan, General Secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union.

“It is imperative that we get that message across, not just to the Minister, but to parents and the wider community.

“Unlike the employers, parents know and largely appreciate the dedication of their children’s teachers but there’s a sense that ‘it’ll all be ok in the end’. But this cannot end well and parents need to know.

“Unless something is done to address teachers’ plummeting morale over pay and to address the future funding issues to allow schools to carry on providing the education our children deserve, then we must resolve this situation.

“Parents will appreciate that this ballot on strike action comes as a very last resort and it’s something we as a profession are loathe to do. However, having tried to appeal to the employers via other routes and been treated with contempt we feel we have no other option."

She added: “The Minister needs to take teachers seriously – they are slow to anger but he needs to realise that it is teachers that keep education deliverable. If they are no longer prepared to ‘go the extra mile’ then the whole system will fall down around him."

Education Minister Peter Weir has urged teachers not to strike, warning: "it will cause major disruption to parents, and put further pressure on other teachers and leaders that are already struggling to cope in addition to damaging the reputation of teachers".

Minister urges teachers to call off 'futile' strike

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