Frequently asked questions about industrial action in Northern Ireland

Who is expected to take strike action? (Northern Ireland)

All NASUWT members whether working in grant-aided schools, employed directly by the Education Authority on teachers’ terms and conditions of employment or in a further education college are instructed to strike.

I am a principal. What should I do on a day of strike action? (Northern Ireland)

Principal members are instructed to take part in the strike action on 29 November.

The industrial action is the result of an ongoing dispute over the pay and working conditions of teachers and principals. Members should stand together to secure a better deal for all teachers and school leaders.

In deciding whether the school can accommodate students, principal members should act on the basis of information provided to them by trade unions.

Teachers and support staff who are not taking industrial action should not be redirected from their usual duties to teach or supervise students.

Principal members are not entitled to details of the names of staff taking part in strike action and may not therefore be in a position to provide information to the Department or employing authorities in advance of the strike as to which trade union members are taking part in strike action.

I am a member in a private school. Does the day of strike action affect me? (Northern Ireland)

Members in private facilities are NOT taking part in the strike action.

Do I need to inform anyone on the day or before of my intention to strike? (Northern Ireland)

No. Members are not required to inform school management of their intention to strike and School/College Reps should ensure that this information is not provided.

Will the school/college or employing authority be given a list of members’ names who are taking strike action? (Northern Ireland)

Schools/colleges and employing authorities are informed of the number of members at each workplace.

The Union will not provide details of the names of members at any workplace.

Do I need to send in cover work? (Northern Ireland)

No, you are on strike, so you should not send in cover work in advance of the strike action or mark any pupil’s work produced while you are on strike.

Will there be pickets? (Northern Ireland)

Yes. Picket lines should be set up as on the previous day of action. 

Members working at the workplace in question can picket their workplace only.

Members must not, under any circumstances, attend a picket at a workplace at which they do not work.

Will there be rallies? (Northern Ireland)

Rallies will be organised across Northern Ireland in conjunction with all public sector unions who are taking strike action.

How are strike deductions calculated? (Northern Ireland)

Due to the nature of the contract, permanent teachers and those who are employed as if they are permanent accrue pay on a daily basis for every day of the year.

A day’s pay is 1/365 of annual gross salary. The strike deduction should be half of 1/365 of gross pay. The net amount after deductions should be smaller than this.

Teachers employed through NISTR accrue pay on a 1/195 of gross annual salary. The strike deduction should be 1/195 of gross pay.  The net amount after deductions should be smaller than this.

Will pay deductions be taken from all members? (Northern Ireland)

Only if you are actually on strike. If you are part time and do not work on a day when strike action is taking place, no deduction should be made.

The same applies to any members on maternity leave, off sick, etc.

When will deductions be taken from striking members? (Northern Ireland)

This is within the gift of the employer, but it is normally the first pay round after the action.

Am I entitled to apply to the NASUWT Benevolent Fund? (Northern Ireland)

The usual requirements for benevolence apply. Members in financial hardship may apply to the Union for benevolence assistance.

Further details can be found at NASUWT Benevolent Fund.

Will striking affect my continuity of service? (Northern Ireland)

Teachers’ service is not broken by undertaking strike action.

Members will not, however, accrue service on strike days - essentially service is paused for that day. This can have implications for some teachers in the event of a redundancy.

As a supply teacher, should I be on strike? (Northern Ireland)

If you are contracted to work on the proposed strike day, then yes.

I am a temporary teacher who is concerned that this may impact my right to apply for permanency after four years? (Northern Ireland)

A teacher’s service is not broken by undertaking strike action provided you work on at least one day that week, but the days on strike are not counted for the purpose of continuity.

In practice, the teacher’s original commencement date of employment is postponed by the number of days strike they were on.

Will there be an impact on my pension? (Northern Ireland)

Teachers’ pay is based on earnings, a drop in earnings as a result of a strike will have a small impact on pension benefits but it does not remove a member from the pension scheme.

I work as a job share - will I lose salary for the day, while my job share partner will not? (Northern Ireland)

The person whose day is the strike day will lose pay, while the other will not.

Can I apply for a strike exemption? (Northern Ireland)

The exemptions below apply to the strike action notified to take place on 18 January only:

  • Members who are pregnant and who will have less than 26 weeks’ continuous service by 18 January 2024.

  • Members taking maternity leave in 2024 and with an expected week of confinement (EWC) from June to August 2024.

  • Members concerned about the impact on their maternity rights should contact the NASUWT Northern Ireland Centre for individual advice.

  • Any requests for exemptions relating to matters not listed above should be made in the first instance to the National Executive Member or the NASUWT Northern Ireland Centre and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.