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School leaders to take further strike action in Northern Ireland

For only the second time in its 126 year history, members of school leaders’ union NAHT, in Northern Ireland, will strike over pay.

The first, unprecedented day of strike action took place in April 2023, but calls for resolution to the ongoing dispute were not met by employing authorities.

As a result, NAHT will join the teaching unions in further strike action on Wednesday 29 November.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said: “In every other jurisdiction in which NAHT operates, we have seen pay increases for the teaching profession.

"That teachers and school leaders in Northern Ireland, however, have had no increase in pay in over three years while colleagues elsewhere have is, frankly, unforgivable.

“The teaching profession in Northern Ireland is remarkably dedicated to the learning, development and safeguarding of children, and is currently operating in one of the most challenging and stressful contexts in the UK.

"In the last decade, teachers and school leaders have seen their pay eroded by almost 30%, in real terms, and have endured decimating reductions in the support, resources and funding that they need to fulfil their roles.

“It is imperative that those with the responsibility to resolve this dispute make immediate headway to that end, because the profession can endure the status quo no longer.

"We call on the government and the employers to make an acceptable offer to our members; an offer that is reflective of the pay settlements that have been made across the UK over the course of the last three years.”

Liam McGuckin, NAHT Northern Ireland’s president, said: “Taking strike action is, genuinely, the last resort for school leaders.

"This is a significant act of industrial action and protest at the failure of management side to make any offer to the teaching profession.

"The system is failing our schools, our workforce and, most importantly, our young people.

"We have had a year of dispute with no progress and have simply run out of patience.

"We need immediate investment, without which the profession that holds together much of the fabric of society will be irreparably damaged.

"NAHT members are not prepared to allow that to happen, and are taking significant action to force employers and politicians to open their eyes to the devastation that is happening on their watch. They must act.”

First published 20 November 2023