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School leaders in Northern Ireland have reluctantly moved a step closer to a formal ballot on industrial action.

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The results of the indicative ballot on industrial action announced to over 100 principals and vice-principals in Stormont yesterday indicate that school leaders across Northern Ireland have now, reluctantly, moved one step closer to a formal ballot on industrial action. 

NAHT(NI) President Geri Cameron described the result as unprecedented in NAHT(NI) history, stating:

“Our members voted overwhelmingly to proceed to a formal ballot with 93% in favour of taking industrial action.  We now have a clear mandate from members to proceed to  the next step of the process.

“School leaders are a very reasonable group of people, but we are stretched to the limit.  We haven't escalated our dispute over pay. Our issues are special educational needs, workload and ever increasing pressure on our members driven by budget cuts as schools in Northern Ireland have seen the biggest real-terms reduction in per pupil funding compared to any other part of the UK since 2010.

“There is a generation of children in school now who deserve better.  School leaders will focus their attention on what is best for the children and we will ensure, to the best of our ability, that any action will impact on the employing authoritiesand the Department of Education. 

“NAHT(NI) is currently the only teacher union in Northern Ireland not taking any form of industrial action, but as authorities within education have yet to solve the on-going dispute after 8 years, we now must consider the next step.

NAHT members had previously decided not to progress to industrial action in an indicative ballot in February 2017. However, the majority of members have now changed their minds due to impact the funding situation is having on children and young people in Northern Ireland.

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From left to right - Rob Kelsall, National Secretary for Organising and Campaigns, NAHT, Karen Bradley MLA, Geri Cameron, NAHT(NI) President, Colin McGrath MLA, Rosemary Barton MLA, Peter Weir MLA and Chris Lyttle MLA
First published 04 March 2019