Ongoing Strikes Halt Education Minister’s Visit

Visits to some schools by the education minister will be halted by industrial action from a union representing many school leaders. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is starting action short of strike on Tuesday. It has told its members not to “cooperate with unsolicited ministerial and senior civil servant” visits.

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Five teaching unions in Northern Ireland are taking “unprecedented” joint industrial action over pay.

In February, the unions rejected as “inadequate” a two-year pay offer for the years 2021 to 2023 from the employers. The joint action short of strike will last two weeks from Tuesday. It will involve a work-to-rule and the withdrawal of some voluntary cooperation, such as attending meetings.

The NAHT and NASUWT are acting, as Nipsa, Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) and INTO. NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “This is not a decision that our members have taken lightly.” He added that the union’s members were “exasperated” by the lack of progress on pay. “Our members feel that they have been left with no alternative but to take this course of action,” Mr Whiteman said. “We remain open to dialogue and hope meaningful negotiations can resume at the earliest opportunity.”

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Nipa general secretary Alison Millar said the unions were “united in our determination to secure fair pay for all teachers”. “This unprecedented joint industrial action sends a clear message to the employers that we are serious about achieving this,” she said.

UTU general secretary Jackie Maguire said: “Teachers’ pay has been allowed to lag behind other professions for too long.” INTO Northern Ireland president Margaret Garrity said the teachers taking part in the action were doing so “reluctantly and with a heavy heart”.

“Teachers did not enter this profession for financial gain but cannot be expected to continue to accept real-term pay cuts,” she said.

NASUWT Northern Ireland official Gavin Boyd said the action was “a last resort”.

“The NASUWT will continue to work with other unions in Northern Ireland to Seek to resolve this dispute through meaningful negotiations,” he said.

The Department of Education said it regretted that the NAHT had decided to take industrial action.

A spokesperson added: “The department will continue to work with the other teaching unions and employers to resolve this matter.”

The NAHT Nand ASUWT are taking action, such as Nas Ipsa, Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) and INTO.

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “This is not a decision that our members have taken lightly.”

He added that the union’s members were “exasperated” by the lack of progress on pay.

“Our members feel that they have been left with no alternative but to take this course of action,” Mr Whiteman said.

“We remain open to dialogue and hope meaningful negotiations can resume at the earliest opportunity.”

Nipa general secretary Alison Millar said the unions were “united in our determination to secure fair pay for all teachers”.

“This unprecedented joint industrial action sends a clear message to the employers that we are serious about achieving this,” she said.

UTU general secretary Jackie Maguire said: “Teachers’ pay has been allowed to lag behind other professions for too long.”

INTO Northern Ireland president Margaret Garrity said the teachers taking part in the action were doing so “reluctantly and with a heavy heart”.

“Teachers did not enter this profession for financial gain but cannot be expected to continue to accept real-term pay cuts,” she said.

NASUWT Northern Ireland official Gavin Boyd said the action was “a last resort”.

“The NASUWT will continue to work with other unions in Northern Ireland to Seek to resolve this dispute through meaningful negotiations,” he said.

The Department of Education said it regretted that the NAHT had decided to take industrial action.

A spokesperson added: “The department will continue to work with the other teaching unions and employers to resolve this matter.”

The NAHT and NASUWT are taking action, Nias psa, Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) and INTO.

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