In one of the highest turnouts in recent ballots, members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT NI) have voted to strike over proposals to cut pensions and drastically reduce funding to Education in Northern Ireland.
The NAHT may now join other public sector workers and teaching union colleagues on the picket lines on November 30. More than half (51 per cent ) of the union’s membership took part in the ballot with 66.7per cent of them voting 'yes' – testimony to the intensity of feeling over an issue which many school leaders see primarily as a threat to staff recruitment and retention and ultimately, therefore, as a threat to educational standards.
Raymond McFeeters NAHT (NI) President said: “it is with deep regret that school leaders in Northern Ireland find themselves in this situation. Our focus has consistently been on the development and protection of a quality education service for our children and young people but we believe that these proposals will seriously impact on our ability to deliver this.”
This is a strong statement to the assembly and a decisive vote for industrial action in line with our colleagues and fellow NAHT members in England and Wales
Negotiations regarding pensions and cuts are on-going between government and public sector unions in an attempt to avert a strike. “However,” Mr McFeeters said, “If these negotiations are not successful then we will have no alternative but to ask our members to take industrial action on the 30November along with the other public sector unions. NAHT is committed to securing a fair pensions deal for our members in Northern Ireland as well as challenging the severe budget cuts which threaten many of our schools and the future of the profession itself.’
Number of ballot papers returned 355 (50.9% turnout)
Number of ballot papers found to be invalid 1
Total number of ballot papers counted 354
Number voting YES 236 (66.7% of valid vote)
Number voting NO 118 (33.3% of valid vote)