Stormont’s education minister has confirmed teachers here could face pay cuts if they go on strike.
It comes after a vote by teachers’ union NASUWT members resulted in 81% supporting strike action, while another union, the Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO)n, will elect its members to strike action next month.
Last month, school principals here were warned in a letter from Management Side – the governing body for educational institutions in Northern Ireland – that striking teachers could have their wages taken away, as such industrial action would be classified as teachers who are “failing to carry out their contractual duties to the fullest.” and therefore in breach of contract”.
“We wrote to them [teaching union] urging NASUWT to cease what we consider to be breaches of contract,” the letter said.
“We have indicated that where this cannot be agreed, we must consider arranging for reasonable and proportionate salary deductions from those teachers who breach their contractual obligations.”
Education Secretary Michelle McIlveen was asked in a recent written question to the Assembly how she felt about reports that the teachers on strike could face a pay cut.
She replied, “Teachers’ terms, including pay, are negotiated by the Teachers’ Negotiation Committee (TNC). The management side of the TNC includes representatives from employers, sectoral interests and the Ministry of Education. The teachers’ side of the TNC includes representatives from the five main teaching unions (INTO, UTU, NAHT, NASUWT and NEU).
“I understand that the TNC management side made an assessment of the industrial action and determined that participation in the NASUWT action constituted a breach of the teachers’ contractual obligations.”
People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll criticized the Minister’s response.
“The minister’s response will outrage many teachers and education workers for shirking her responsibilities as education minister to education workers and appearing to have given her consent for workers’ salaries to be deducted following a labor dispute,” he said.
“Despite the minister’s attempt to avoid it, it’s clear that she’s going to stop. If the minister were to decide that the teacher’s salary would not be deducted for taking part in the industrial action, then that would be the order of the day.
“Instead, the minister has followed the Tories’ lead in continuing her party’s longstanding campaign to boot up unions in general and education workers and unions in particular.
“It is a grotesque state of affairs for the minister to claim that industrial action is a ‘breach of teachers’ contractual duties’. Teachers and educators in general have always gone beyond their contracts to provide education to people in all our communities (especially in the last 2 years) and not once has the Minister intervened or commented.
“Now the minister appears to be giving her support to undermine workers’ right to collective action and further penalize them financially if they take action in the midst of a cost of living crisis. That is unfortunate. People have a legal right to strike and take industrial action, and current laws regulating union activity are already cumbersome and designed to discourage workers from taking action.
“This latest proposal would be another attempt to prevent workers from taking action and it should be taken off the table immediately and the Minister should make her intention to do so clear.”
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/mcilveen-confirms-striking-teachers-could-face-pay-cut-41883307.html Michelle McIlveen confirms striking teachers could face pay cut