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School leaders in Northern Ireland announce further strike action

In an industrial dispute that has been escalating for over a year, members of school leaders’ union, NAHT, have announced their intention to engage in a further full day of strike action in pursuit of a resolution.

NAHT has taken unprecedented strike action already in the same dispute and will on Thursday 18 January 2024, be joining workers from across education and the wider public sector, in a significant act of protest.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said: “It is unacceptable that the teaching profession in Northern Ireland has been treated so differently and disadvantageously to colleagues across the rest of the UK and Ireland.

"For three years, teachers and school leaders in Northern Ireland have had no uplift in pay whatsoever, while teachers elsewhere have received successive pay increases.

“It is also quite incredible that teachers and school leaders have watched people within the employing and departmental organisations, which have failed to address teacher pay, receive pay increases themselves.

“Our school leaders have always kept schools running throughout very difficult periods, including, of course, during the pandemic.

"They have held together the fragmentation of education and have protected children from the ravages of cuts.

"To make the decision to take strike action is momentous, and demonstrates the seriousness with which our members view the current situation. They have made it very clear that further serious action will follow if an acceptable resolution is not forthcoming.

“It is incumbent upon management side, and indeed politicians, to make serious headway towards an acceptable offer that is reflective of the settlements that have been made across the UK over the course of the last three years.”

Liam McGuckin, NAHT Northern Ireland’s president, said: “The failure to address teacher and school leader pay and, indeed, to make any progress on the clearly understood workload issues for school leaders has led to this situation.

"School leaders cannot be blamed for making such a significant stand; they are doing it for the future of the teaching profession and for the future of our schools.

"The job of school leadership is challenging in the extreme, but the workload upon school leaders is entirely impossible and unsustainable.

"Serious progress needs to be made to protect a role in our education service which is immeasurably valuable and necessary to our children.

“Over a year of dispute, with no progress, is simply unacceptable. A serious offer needs to be tabled immediately, addressing both the pay context and the well-articulated workload issues of which management side is very aware.

“NAHT members are not prepared to allow any further degradation of our profession, and are taking further significant action to force all parties with responsibility to act decisively.”

First published 18 December 2023