This is Phase 4 of our continuing action short of strike (from Monday 17 April 2023).
Our guidance on action short of strike (below) remains in place for September 2023. We are asking members to take some time to revisit these actions, and to ensure that they are embedded in their school practice going into the new school year.
NEU as one of the five teacher unions that make up the NITC are acting as one throughout this period of action, and it is vital that our action continues.
On pay parity. What about us?
The 6.5% award to teachers in England and Wales raises questions about ‘parity-pay’ for teachers across the UK.
In particular, “What about us?” in Northern Ireland.
At the time of the last pay settlement in April 2020, Northern Ireland’s teachers were parity-level on the teachers Main-scale, and slightly ahead of England and Wales on the Upper pay scale. We have regressed since.
The 6.5% in England and Wales normally produces a “Stormont consequential” – broadly a formulaic pro-rata amount for Northern Ireland. However, this ‘consequential’ is not necessarily ring-fenced to education, still less teachers’ pay. It’s a sum that goes into the broader Northern Ireland budgetary ‘pot’.
And difficulties arise from this:
- First, is 6.5% enough? As you can see from the updated table below, the awards in England and Wales in 2021-22 and 2022-23, with a further gap with Scottish teachers, leave us a long way behind!
- Second, it is not self-evident that this 6.5% will be offered. In our estimation, the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris may simply deduct that quotient from the monies ‘owed’ to the UK Exchequer as overspent by the Executive and Assembly in past spending rounds.
- Third, a political game is being played. Heaton Harris has obliged the NICS to undertake a revenue raising exercise in which areas such as water-chares, prescription charges, charging for school meals and buses have been ‘trailed’ as options. This, undoubtedly, is an exercise in pressurizing the reformation of the Stormont executive, similar to that undertaken by Labour’s Peter Hain in previous times.
In short, NEU – with other teachers and education unions – will be pressing for clarity on the worrying slide away from ‘parity pay’ for teachers.