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NASUWT backs strike which may cause chaos

09-05-2007

NASUWT backs strike which may cause chaos

09/05/2007 The Irish News


Members of the north's largest teachers' union have said they would support a strike that could throw schools into chaos.

The staff are angry at being denied the same pay and working conditions as colleagues in England and Wales.

The NASUWT first discussed launching its biggest ever industrial action during a private session of its Northern Ireland conference in Derry two months ago.

Teachers in the north receive lower annual cost of living increases and allowances for taking on extra responsibility.

They are also denied access to an 'excellent teacher' scheme which sees colleagues elsewhere achieve higher pay without having to become a principal or vice-principal.

For the past two years teachers in Wales and England have been given classes to prepare lessons and mark homework.

About 11,000 Northern Ireland NASUWT members were asked to respond to a survey designed to establish priorities for improvements to working conditions and to determine what, if any, action they would be prepared to take.

A total of 93 per cent of those who responded said they would take some form of industrial action, while 60 per cent said they would support a strike.

The survey returns also indicated that teachers were concerned about having time to plan and prepare for lessons and to assess pupils' work.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said teachers need working practices which enable them to focus on their core role of teaching and leading.

"The outcome of the survey indicates the growing deep frustration among teachers that no tangible progress is being made towards the long-overdue improvements to their conditions of service," she said.

"Since 2003, teachers in England and Wales have benefited from a phased programme of contractual change which recognises and supports them as highly skilled professionals. Teachers in Northern Ireland deserve no less."

Ms Keates said she has written to new education minister Caitriona Ruane, advising her of the outcome of the survey and asking for an urgent meeting to discuss pay and conditions.

"We want to work constructively with the devolved government and give the new ministerial team an opportunity to consider and address these issues," she said.

"It is for this reason the NASUWT is not, at this time, moving to a formal ballot for action even though we have a clear mandate to do so."

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