Teachers stage half-day strike over pay dispute

January 23, 2017

Teachers from schools across Northern Ireland staged industrial action last week in an ongoing pay dispute.  Around 7,000 INTO members in some 800 schools across Northern Ireland did not start work until 12:30pm on Wednesday last.

Some schools were closed for the morning, others the entire day, while schools with relatively few INTO members operated as normal.

Talks have been ongoing between the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), the Employing Authorities and Department of Education after the Education Minister’s decision to withhold a cost of living increase for teachers for 2015/16.

In October, the five main teaching unions rejected an offer freezing their pay from 2015/16 and giving a rise of 1% in 2016/17. INTO members were balloted before Christmas, when talks failed, and an overwhelming majority voted in favour of strike action.

Last week’s industrial action was the first in a series of planned stoppages by the INTO and more action is planned in schools on January 31st.

Gerry Murphy, the INTO Northern Secretary said INTO’s 7,000 members, across the entire school system, are “fed up and angry” at being exploited by the Minister and Employing Authorities.

“Teachers are loathed to take strike action, but, in the face of the decision by a Minister who has badly misjudged the mood of the profession and having exhausted all the avenues of negotiation available to them, teachers have no options left other than to withdraw their labour,” he said.

“This is the first of a series of planned stoppages and INTO will not hesitate to enact further work stoppages should the Minister and the Employing Authorities continue to deny teachers an increase already paid to every other education worker in the 2015/16 year.

“The Minister claims there is no money to pay such an increase yet his Ministerial colleagues can find money to meet serious cost over runs in other areas.

“Teachers provide an essential public service – one that is key to developing our economy and building a better society and in denying them a fair and just wage Minister Weir is displaying an unacceptable disregard for their professionalism and hard work.”

Mr Murphy reiterated that INTO remains available to talk to the Minister and the Employing Authorities.

He added: “We hope that sense will prevail and, with an election weeks away, Minister Weir would do well to consider paying teachers now rather than paying later at the ballot box.”

Pledging her party’s support for striking teachers, Newry & Armagh Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon confirmed that Sinn Fein representatives will meet Education Minister Peter Weir to discuss the concerns over teachers’ pay. S

peaking after she met with teachers on the picket lines last Wednesday, Ms Fearon said her colleague Michaela Boyle MLA has organised a meeting with Education Minister Peter Weir to discuss the one per cent pay rise and other concerns raised by teachers.