- Following the resounding mandate given by members in our formal ballot (September 2022), action short of strike action (ASOS) commenced in October 2022
- With no serious attempt being made to address the outstanding pay claims and settle the industrial dispute, ASOS was escalated in March 2023
Very significantly, a full day of unprecedented strike action was taken across all of the teaching unions in April 2023
A third pay claim was submitted in June 2023. In addition to the previous unmet pay claims, there are now three years of outstanding, unaddressed pay claims. This situation is bordering on farcical and cannot be accepted
It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that action short of strike action has been escalated again, effective from 4 September 2023. This iteration of ASOS has been designed to be particularly hard-hitting, to express the absolute resolution and intent of school leaders to achieve a fair and sustainable resolution to this dispute for the sake of the current teaching workforce and the future of the teaching profession.
Comment from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman
School leaders and teachers in Northern Ireland are not worth less than their colleagues in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland or anywhere else. The widening disparity of remuneration must be addressed by the devolved administration and the Northern Ireland managing authorities with urgency.
School leaders in Northern Ireland have taken industrial action democratically, following very serious and extensive debate and discussion and voting. They continue on this path with resilience, fortitude and intent, but also with a sense of frustration that school workers in Northern Ireland seem to be so poorly valued by those who should be investing in the future of our schools and our children. The seriousness with which they are taking this dispute was demonstrated powerfully when they took the unprecedented step of strike action, alongside the other teaching unions, on 26 April 2023.
Our members will be vindicated at the end of this dispute, because their cause is just and ethically sound. School leaders in Northern Ireland have the full backing of the national executive and the wider membership of NAHT across all of our jurisdictions.
Comment from NAHT(NI)'s president Liam McGuckin
NAHT members are angry, and justifiably so. We have watched teachers and school leaders in other parts of these islands receive pay increases on top of previous pay increases, while remuneration for the teaching profession in Northern Ireland remains stagnant.
As the trade union for school leaders, NAHT cannot allow the teaching profession to be further degraded. In response, we will continue to protect the children in our schools, but will increase the pressure on the employing authorities and the Department of Education by escalating our actions which are directed at them.
It is unprecedented that school leaders, who have held together an increasingly fragmented and broken system for so long, would take such action. We are normally the problem solvers; the fixers who sacrificially fill in the gaps where other systems and services collapse. The fact that our members are escalating their industrial position demonstrates both the extent of the problem and the seriousness of their intent.
We implore local government and our managing authorities to pull out all the stops now and come to the table with a fair proposal that addressed the disparity in pay across all jurisdictions on these islands in order to resolve this dispute.
Has any offer been received?
There has been no formal offer on pay since 7 February, 2022, which represented an increase of just 2.49% over two years for school leaders. The offer was deemed derisory and was flatly rejected following consultation with members.
In real terms, remuneration for school leaders for the critically important and extremely challenging job that they do has been eroded to the point that they are now being paid 26% less per year than in 2010. With the status quo in terms of pay and CPI, this will rise to 37% by 2023.
That is worth repeating: without any change, the value of pay for school leadership will be 37% less than in 2010.
This is simply mind-boggling! It cannot be accepted and, when considered alongside unaddressed workload issues (despite the 29 recommendations within the TNC Review of Workload Impact on School Leaders), it is clear to see why school leaders have taken unprecedented industrial steps in this current dispute.
The paralysis on pay and workload is having a serious and long-term detrimental impact on our current school leaders and on the potential for recruiting for school leadership in the future.
In the last ten years, school leaders have:
- started each new academic year to heavily increased expectation, demand and need,
- started each new academic year to heavily reduced support, resource, funding and guidance,
- started each new academic year to a pay cut,
- held together an increasingly fragmented and broken system,
- faced communities when all other services have been invisible, absorbing complaint, concern and abuse,
- maintained education services throughout the pandemic, including carrying much of the public health-response burden, and
endured dangerous working hours and workload pressures.
What do the actions short of strike (ASOS) look like?
From 4 September 2023, there are now 20 actions short of strike being followed by school leaders:
- Refuse to facilitate or cooperate with unsolicited ministerial and senior civil servant visits to schools.
- Refuse to provide information to employers regarding staff participating in industrial action short of strike action.
- Refuse unsolicited contact from the employing authorities and the Department of Education (DE) on any issue, save for legitimate matters of safeguarding or any issue deemed by the principal to be useful to the school.
- Refuse to provide information, data or financial planning to employers and/or other relevant bodies, whether directly or indirectly, and refuse to provide data that is available elsewhere.
- Refuse to engage with employing authority personnel in relation to Pathways into Partnership, and refuse to participate in the School Improvement Programme.
- Refuse to attend the EA School Principals’ Forum unless directly advised by NAHT.
- Refuse to facilitate school visits by School Development Services, save for legitimate safeguarding issues or if the school is in formal intervention.
- Refuse to engage with school improvement professionals, any unsolicited contact/correspondence from employers, save for legitimate safeguarding issues or if the school is in formal intervention.
- Refuse to promote, facilitate or engage with any new initiatives, refuse to attend training events or meetings convened by the employers and refuse to create new policies or update existing policies, save for legitimate safeguarding training and training advised by NAHT.
- Refuse to engage with the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) in any way, save for in relation to any pre-identified safeguarding issue.
- Refuse to do anything in relation to school development planning.
- Refuse to operate, engage with or implement PRSD for any member of staff who is at the top of their respective scale, including the vice principal and principal.
- Refuse to attend, facilitate or assist more than one board of governors' meeting per term or disseminate (or assist with the dissemination of) training materials to governors.
- Refuse to facilitate any budget-based redundancy for any member of staff.
- Refuse to pass on any communications to staff or governors that emanate from the employing authorities, the ETI or the DE.
- Refuse to undertake any business travel unless arrangements for reimbursement have been provided in advance of travel.
- Adhere to the working hours of the equivalent civil service grade of 37.5 hours per week.
- Refuse to submit the annual census electronically, and refuse to submit any other information, data or monitoring forms electronically.
- Remove any logos from the Department of Education, employing authorities and support bodies from all school material.
- Refuse to conduct any financial planning for more than one year at a time.
Please keep an eye out for further communications from us so you can keep up to date with the campaign, and what it means for you. You can, of course, contact the office at any stage with questions, concerns, advice needs or any points of clarification.
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If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or by telephone at 02890 776633.