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An inspiring and moving round-up of our Northern Ireland members’ reasons for taking strike action, produced by NASUWT Senior Vice-President Ronan Sharkey on 26 April

NASUWT NI members stood with our sister unions today and sent a strong message that we need a Better Deal for Teachers and Lecturers. Our Senior Vice-President Ronan Sharkey put together this video of the day.

Posted by NASUWT Northern Ireland on Wednesday, 26 April 2023

10 Good Reasons to Take Strike Action

  1. Teachers need a pay rise. The last 13 years have seen cuts of 38% to teachers’ pay in real terms.

  2. Teachers face a deepening cost-of-living crisis, with rising bills for food, fuel and energy, council rates on top of inflation rate increases, and increases to National Insurance Contributions from April 2022.

  3. Teachers have already lost thousands of pounds as a result of year-on-year pay cuts since 2010. For example, a teacher on M1 has lost £44,669, a teacher on M6 has lost £65,288, and a teacher on UPS3 has lost £76,064.

  4. Many teachers are struggling to make ends meet. Our evidence indicates that more than half of teachers are cutting back on essential household expenditure and one in ten say that financial worries are affecting their ability to do the job.

  5. The real terms cuts to teachers’ pay mean reduced value of teachers’ pensions in retirement, in addition to the reforms made to teachers’ pensions a decade ago which now mean that teachers have to pay more and work longer to receive less when they retire.

  6. The proposed pay award for teachers for 2021-23 was woefully inadequate. For the majority of teachers, it would have resulted in no cost-of-living pay award since 2020.

  7. Teachers are also getting a raw deal on workload. 91% of teachers report that the demands of the job have adversely affected their mental health in the last 12 months. 64% said the job had adversely affected their physical health. This is not a foundation for delivering high-quality education to pupils.

  8. The NASUWT entered into an agreement in 2020 with the Department of Education to tackle workload concerns, but the commitments made by the Department of Education have not been fully delivered as workload and working hours continue to increase year on year.

  9. Teachers and principals are being left to deal with a workload crisis. More and more demands and expectations are being placed on schools. Teachers are at breaking point. The Department and employers must be made to keep their promises.

  10. In taking part in this strike, teachers will be making clear that they are opposed to continuing cuts to their pay and living standards, and that the working conditions of teachers must urgently be improved.

Pay and industrial action updates

Letters to members and up-to-date action instructions can be found on the right/below.

20 November: The NASUWT has announced a further half day of strike action on Wednesday 29 November. The letters to members can be found on the right/below.

26 April: A further day of strike action took place with a rally in Belfast, as seen in the footage above. Updated Industrial Action FAQs that took effect on 3 April 2023 can be found on the right/below.

22 March 2023: The NASUWT has contacted members and employers to notify them of a new set of action instructions which will take effect from 3 April.​

25 January 2023: The NASUWT has notified all members in grant-aided schools and those employed directly by the Education Authority on teachers’ terms and conditions that they are to take half a day of strike action on 21 February 2023. Please note this includes NASUWT members employed in special schools.

8 November: A new version of instruction 22 has been issued to all schools which takes effect from 21 November. The instruction is as follows:

22. Members will undertake to prepare, plan and assess for their pupils at a time and place of their choosing. Pre-existing duty arrangements which are related to safeguarding of pupils (e.g. school bus duties) are exempt from action.

26 October: The Union wrote to all members to notify them not to follow instruction 22 until the new version has been formally notified to the employers and the required period of notification has passed.

18 October: The Union issued a notice of escalation of industrial action in all grant-aided schools in Northern Ireland.

These instructions took effect from 31 October.

28 September: A new instruction 14 was issued on 28 September instructing members to take the following action from 6 October in addition to the existing instructions.

14. NASUWT members will not accept the direction of the principal to undertake any other activity in lieu of attendance at meetings and, outside timetabled pupil session times, members may carry out their duties at the location of their choice.

27 April: The NASUWT issued action short of strike action instructions to all members in grant-aided schools instructing them to follow our action short of strike action instructions.

Current pay negotiations

The NASUWT, along with our sister unions in the NITC, has submitted a pay claim for 2022/23 for a cost-of-living increase of inflation plus 2%. This is in addition to the pay claim for 2021/22 of 6% which has yet to be resolved.

Please contact the Northern Ireland Office if you have any questions.

Management Side threats

At the end of the summer, Management Side made threats to deduct pay from NASUWT members taking part in action short of strike. In response, hundreds of NASUWT members made it clear that this had strengthened their resolve to follow our current action and to escalate the action up to and including strike action.

These messages have been heard loud and clear and will inform both our own deliberations and discussions with our sister unions in the coming weeks.

With your support, we will work to secure better pay and working conditions to deliver a Better Deal for Teachers.


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