Members of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents leaders in every school on the Isle of Man, are gathering tomorrow (Tuesday 28 January) to discuss industrial action short of a strike due to commence this Thursday (30 January). They will be joined by senior NAHT officials, including general secretary Paul Whiteman.
This follows an official ballot in which 96 per cent of NAHT school leader members voted that they would be prepared to take industrial action short of strike, and 87 per cent said they were prepared to strike.
NAHT has served notice to the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) that their members will be taking action short of strike from Thursday (30 January). The meeting tomorrow will confirm this and determine what form of action will be taken.
Unions on the Isle of Man have been in dispute with the DESC since the beginning of 2019 over pay. Last week, DESC announced that it had reached a deal with one union. We understand that this has now fallen away. Attempts to split the unions collective endeavours have failed.
Rob Kelsall, NAHT National Secretary, said: “Education professionals on the Isle of Man have been forced into a position where taking action is the only option left open to them. Trust and confidence between School Leaders, Teachers and the Department is at an all-time low. We are dismayed that the Chief Minister has not taken up our invitation to meet to discuss the situation. Tynwald must take action; now is the time to fix this.”
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “Education professionals on the island have shown that they are determined not to be taken for granted any longer, and the whole of NAHT is right behind them. We have seen that failures to implement fair pay settlements for leaders and their teams have had a huge and negative impact on the profession. Without a skilled and motivated workforce, none of the government’s aspirations to raise the academic and social standards and outcomes for children and young people will come to fruition.
“The government has shown a complete lack of respect for hard working and dedicated professionals. In doing so you have to ask the question: do they really care about the future of the island’s children? NAHT members do, which is why we are campaigning for a just settlement to recruit and retain the very best education professionals to the Isle of Man.”
Teachers and school leaders on the Isle of Man have been forced to accept 10 years of below-inflation pay awards, amounting to real-terms pay cuts. Despite the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) last year recommending a pay rise of 3.5% for all teachers and leaders, the island’s government has refused to award the full amount to all staff.
Max Kelly, of NAHT’s Isle of Man branch, said: “School leaders on the Isle of Man are feeling downtrodden and undervalued. They are dedicated professionals, absolutely committed to providing the best education possible for all children. For too long the government has taken that, and them, for granted. NAHT has been negotiating with employers since the start of last year, but to no avail. We are keen to avoid action, and the door remains open to further talks, but school leaders deserve a fair deal for the vital work they do.”
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Senior Press Officer