Belfast Telegraph

Teachers' union NASUWT calls second strike at Northern Ireland schools

By Rebecca Black

Teachers’ union the NASUWT has announced its next planned strike action in Northern Ireland.

The walk outs are set to take place on Tuesday, January 31 at schools across the Derry City, Strabane, Mid Ulster, Fermanagh and Omagh areas.

This comes after the union caused chaos on November 30 when it called its members at schools in the Belfast and Newtownabbey areas out to strike.

Some 77 schools were affected by the one-day strike, with some having to close completely.

The strike action was taken over pay, job security and workload.

Education Minister Peter Weir criticised the strike, claiming his department’s budget is under severe pressure, accusing the unions of harming the education of children.

Last October the five teachers’ unions in Northern Ireland walked out of talks with employers over a pay offer of 0% of 2015-16 and 1% for 2016/17.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “It is with deep regret that we remain in this position, but we have been left with no choice by the blatant disregard of the Minister for Education and the employers for the pay and conditions of service of teachers who provide such a vital public service.

“We have continued to make clear to the minister that strike action can be avoided if there is an improvement on the 0% pay award for 2015/16 and a genuine commitment to meet with the NASUWT to seek to resolve our trade dispute.

“If the next phase of strike action goes ahead, it will be the responsibility of the ministers and the employers.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said its members are committed and dedicated teachers who regret any disruption to pupils and parents.

“However, parents will also recognise that unless teachers are recognised and rewarded as highly-skilled professionals and have working conditions which free them to focus on teaching and learning, there will be a long-term detrimental impact on the quality of education provision for their children,” he said.

The announcement by NASUWT comes after it emerged this week that the unions are set to meet employers for preliminary talks next Thursday, January 12.

A separate teachers’ union, INTO, is planning to stage a half day strike action on Wednesday January 18

Two other teacher’s unions - UTU and ATL - have voted for industrial action short of striking.

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