Teachers’ strike threat over budget cuts

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A teaching union has warned industrial action cannot be ruled out over proposed cuts to the education budget in Northern Ireland.

Meetings are to be held in the new year to discuss a campaign of resistance after Stormont’s education department announced 1,000 teaching jobs could be under threat if next year’s draft spending plan is introduced.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: “It is essential to recognise that these proposals may represent a tipping point in the tolerance of teachers. Industrial action cannot be ruled out.”

She claimed education would be decimated by the spending cuts.

The Department of Education has to make reductions of £198 million to its budget next year.

A senior official has said 1,000 teaching jobs and 1,500 non-teaching jobs could be lost and that that figure could rise. He warned schools’ budgets could also be cut.

Ms Keates said she was gravely concerned that the reductions of 8.4 per cent to the budget for running the system and cuts to the capital building budget of 20 per cent will have a severe impact on front line services and will mean the core services provided at current levels cannot continue.

She said the timescale for the proposed changes would create major turbulence to schools and disrupt the education of children and young people.

“It is clear from the responses that the NASUWT has already had from members, that they will not stand by and let a service to which they have dedicated their working lives be decimated in the manner proposed.

“The NASUWT calls for the draft budget proposals to be withdrawn in the interests of the future of children and young people.”