Over 100 schools are set to strike across Belfast and Newtownabbey today, with further strikes planned for December and further afield. Members of the NASWUT have agreed to engage in strike action today after negotiations between the major teaching unions and employers broke down earlier this year, which is to be expected when you offer teachers a paltry 1% pay increase after years of freezes and increases in pension contributions.
Education Minister Peter Weir (DUP) has been quick to label the strikes as “damaging” for children and union members, and rest assured that radio talk shows and media columns will be dedicated to this assertion today, but let’s focus on the facts.
As MLAs have been filling their boots with pay rises over the years, the latest being an eye watering 11%, Teachers in Northern Ireland are already paid an unbelievable 15% below the OECD average for their profession, and have been forced to shoulder the increased costs of pension contributions coupled with five years of pay freezes. But it doesn’t stop there.
The Executive has closed schools and cut funding over the last 5-6 years, this has led to larger classrooms and the heavier workload that comes with that, meaning teachers are being forced to work harder for longer as well as taking home smaller pay packets.
We won’t berate you any longer, but we do ask that you support the NASWUT members on strike today, tweet into radio shows, show support at the pickets lines and don’t give in to the notion that teacher’s are being selfish in demanding a fair pay increase. It’s the Stormont Executive that should grovel, not ordinary union members demanding fair pay for a day’s work.