Teachers to take action short of strike from May 9 in Northern Ireland

Members of Northern Ireland’s largest teaching union are to take industrial action short of a strike from May 9 onwards, it has been announced.

By Niall Deeney
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 6:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 9:56 am
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Stock picture, generic picture, Education, Classroom, study, teaching, school, books, educational

In a letter to its 11,000 members, the NASUWT announced that the action will be continuous, and would apply to teachers, substitute teachers, vice principals and principals.

This comes after a majority of union members gave their backing to industrial action in a dispute over pay and working conditions, with over 80% also backing a strike.

The news comes amid ongoing disruption in schools across Northern Ireland due to strike action by non-teaching staff who are members of the Unite trade union in a separate dispute over pay.

Unite members employed by the Education Authority (EA), local councils, and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive are engaged in ongoing strikes over a two-week period.

The strikes have caused disruption to council services, including bin collections in a number of areas, while special schools have been particularly impacted by the action from EA workers.

While the NASUWT is the largest teaching union in Northern Ireland by some distance, with its membership approaching half of the total teaching workforce, there are several other unions.

A pay offer by the Department of Education has been rejected by all teaching unions in the Northern Ireland Teachers Council, but other unions including the UTU and the NEU have yet to formally announce a ballot on possible industrial action.

NASUWT national official for Northern Ireland, Justin McCamphill, told the News Letter an escalation of the industrial action to a full strike couldn’t be ruled out but would be carefully considered.

“Industrial action in the form of a strike is always possible as well,” he said.

“But we’re into the third term with exams so we would need to give careful consideration if we were to strike around when that would be.”

In the letter to members, NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said teachers would take a range of actions, including refusal to co-operate with school inspections, implement any existing or new policies, initiatives or working practices, which have not been the subject of consultation and agreement with the union, and refuse to undertake invigilation of public examinations.

Meanwhile, the strike action by Unite members in the Education Authority is set to continue – in the absence of a breakthrough in any negotiations – until the end of this week and then resume following the May Day bank holiday weekend until May 8.

The council strike dates vary, however, with nine of the 11 councils set to see strikes until May 8.

The Newry and Mourne council, however, is set to see a one-day strike by Unite members take place on May 6.

The Ards and North Down council is set to see strike action begin after the coming bank holiday weekend and continue until May 15.