Northern Ireland

Teachers in Northern Ireland to strike again in January

Teachers at schools took part in a half-day strike in February, while there was a full day of strike action in schools and further education colleges in April (PA)

Teachers in Northern Ireland are to strike again next month in a continuing row over pay.

The five main teaching unions in the north said they will hold a further day of strike action on Thursday January 18.

It comes just weeks after a half-day strike took place on November 29 with the action leading to the closure of many schools and others not opening until noon.

The Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council, which represents the five unions, had warned that more days of industrial action were set to take place in the Spring term.

The NITC said on Monday that “to date no pay offer has been made in relation to teachers’ pay, and no talks around same have been tabled”.

It said it had “no option but to once again instruct our members to engage in strike action”.

Graham Gault (NAHT), Ronan Sharkey (NASUWT), Jacquie White, (UTU), Mark McTaggart, (INTO), Danielle Black (NEU). Picture by Mal McCann

Jacquie White, general secretary of UTU and chair of the NITC said: “Almost unbelievably we are entering 2024 with no resolution to this issue since 2020 and it’s now accepted at all levels that teachers’ pay needs to be addressed.

“Yet despite the fact that funding for the public sector pay claim has been identified within the initial offer which now sits with the Secretary of State, the ultimate irony remains that because of the current situation in Stormont there’s no apparent movement or will to deliver it.

“Meanwhile, teachers continue to hold together a system which is crumbling beneath the weight of long-term under-investment, a system which is short-changing our children and risking our future socio-economic success as a country.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT and vice-chair of NITC said that “every day that passes without a decent pay offer increases the anger felt by teachers”.

“Teachers should not be pawns in a political game,” he said.

“Teachers want a return of government in Northern Ireland but also want to be fairly rewarded for the work that they do.

“Teachers are fully prepared for strike action, but should never have been put in this position.”

NAHT President, Liam McGuckin, added: “We know that the employing authorities recognise the harm that has been done to the teaching profession in recent years, both in terms of pay and workload.

“The profession also recognises it and, as a result, the trade unions have developed significant momentum and are collectively, in a position to deliver industrial action on an unprecedented scale.

“This moment must therefore mark a turning point for management side, and a resolution that undoes that damage that has been done must be tabled at speed.”

INTO Northern Secretary Mark McTaggart said: “Time is long past that the decision-makers detach themselves from the notion that this funding is subject to the restart of the Stormont Institutions, and we demand that the necessary funding is immediately released to resolve the issue of teachers’ pay.

“A just pay solution cannot be dependent on the action or inaction of any politician or political party.”

Pauline Buchanan and Mark Langhammer, joint Regional Secretaries of NEU, added: The Independent Review of Education confirmed that our education system has been grossly under-funded for years.

“Teachers pay falling behind and strike action is the inevitable consequence. In the absence of devolved government, we urge the Secretary of State to ‘get on with it’.

Dr Mark Browne, the Department of Education’s permanent secretary, previously said that the trade unions are “fully aware” a pay offer “can only be made if it is affordable within the allocated budget”.

“The department fully understands the frustration of teachers and school leaders over the ongoing absence of a pay offer,” he said.