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Teachers' unions walk out on wage talks after failing to agree pay rise

By Rebecca Black

Published 13/10/2016

Teachers' unions and the Education Authority are at logger heads after teacher pay negotiations broke down without agreement. File image
Teachers' unions and the Education Authority are at logger heads after teacher pay negotiations broke down without agreement. File image

Teachers' unions and the Education Authority are at logger heads after teacher pay negotiations broke down without agreement.

Following discussions which lasted almost 13 months the unions walked away from the negotiating table after the Education Authority (EA) offered a 0% increase for 2015-16 and 1% for 2016-17.

This offer has been rejected by the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (NITC), which comprises the five recognised teacher unions.

The unions have claimed that salaries for teachers in Northern Ireland are falling behind their counterparts in England and Wales.

It will be subject to approval from the Departments of Education and Finance. 

Education Minister Peter Weir described the lack of agreement as “very disappointing”.

“Teachers are essential to the Northern Ireland education system and of course I greatly value the hard work they do. However, it is no secret that public expenditure is extremely tight, including in the education sector,” he said.

“Management side brought forward a package that was realistic and still allows teaching staff to progress along the pay scale, in addition to a cost of living increase. That offer was rejected outright by the unions as were, I understand, earlier and higher offers. Given the speed by which the teaching unions issued their statements, I assume they had predetermined their response prior to the negotiations concluding.”

However, the NASUWT blasted the latest offer as the “final straw in the litany of contemptuous offers”.

It is understood that teachers entitled to the guaranteed incremental progression will still receive that.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, has claimed that teachers in Northern Ireland are now “two years behind their colleagues in Wales, Scotland and England in terms of a pay settlement”.

“Teachers in Northern Ireland are as dedicated, hardworking and committed as their colleagues in Scotland, England and Wales and yet the employers in Northern Ireland have failed to offer them for 2015-16 even the 1% allowed under the Treasury’s pay cap which other teachers have received,” he said.

“Other jurisdictions have already started the process for 2017/18 while in Northern Ireland pay for 2015-2017 has yet to be settled.”

 INTO Northern Secretary Gerry Murphy said his union “entered into these negotiations in good faith in October 2015, and despite our best efforts, the employing authorities have made no realistic attempt to come to an equitable settlement with teachers which truly reflects their hard work, commitment and dedication”.

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