Principals warn teachers’ action will ‘curtail’ school development

Prinicipals have warned they expect industrial action by teachers, due to begin next month, will “seriously curtail activities and development across our schools”.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th April 2022, 7:51 am

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in Northern Ireland has written to the permanent secretary at the Department of Education at Stormont to outline the concerns.

This comes after the NASUWT teaching union announced its intention to go ahead with industrial action short of a strike from May 9 onwards.

The industrial action comes amid a dispute between teachers and employers over pay and working conditions.

Education

A pay offer was rejected by several teaching unions in Northern Ireland earlier this year.

The NASUWT is the largest teaching union in Northern Ireland, and in a recent ballot a majority of those who took part backed industrial action, including strike action.

In the letter to the Department of Health Permanent Secretary Dr Mark Browne, NAHT director Dr Graham Gault said: “A consequence of the unacceptable pay settlement that was offered to teachers and school leaders in February is the industrial action that NASUWT is about to take.

“The NAHT recognises the right for any trade union to take lawful industrial action.

“Following this development, I am writing an open letter to you to make the NAHT’s position very clear.”

He continued: “NAHT is the trade union for school leaders. We represent the frontline education workers who run and lead our schools, who fully anticipate that the forthcoming industrial action will seriously curtail activities and development across our schools.

“In previous (and indeed, current) industrial disputes, there has been an unacceptable expectation from management that school leaders would pick up the workload of others to keep services unaffected. Not only was this expectation unacceptable, it was unsafe, unreasonable and impossible.

“As the industrial landscape evolves in coming months without any fair pay settlement for our school workforce, the system must not be under the illusion that services will remain unaffected.”

The industrial action by teachers comes amid ongoing strikes by non-teaching staff who are members of the Unite trade union.

Unite members employed by the Education Authority have been on strike over pay rates since Tuesday. The strike continues again next week following the May Day bank holiday.

Unite members employed by local councils and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive are also taking strike action over a pay offer for public sector workers.

Nine of the 11 local councils are currently facing disruption from the Unite strike, with separate dates set for strikes at the Newry and Mourne Council and the Ards and North Down Council.