Northern Ireland : Strike action

NEU teacher members in Northern Ireland have voted in favour of strike action.


Two thirds (66%) of NEU teacher members have voted in favour of strike action, and to join INTO, NASUWT and UTU on strike action starting on Tuesday 21 February.

Play video Northern Ireland strike: NEU member with Pay Up banner video

Watch our short film to find out why NEU Northern Ireland members are taking strike action.

There will also be a number of rallies on the strike day and we encourage NEU members to attend their local rally.

Strike rally points and details

Teachers and school leaders will be taking strike action on Tuesday 21st February - starts from 10am .

We are taking strike action because the cuts to teachers' pay and lack of funding for schools are causing a crisis in education.

Rally points:

  • Belfast (City Hall) - 10.30am (Musical entertainment from 10am)
  • Omagh (Courthouse) - 10am
  • Derry/Londonderry (Guildhall) - 10am
  • Ballymena (EA Oices, Ballee) - 10am
  • Newry (Bank Parade, Townhall) - 10am
  • Bangor (Rathgael House, Balloo) - 10am
  • Coleraine (Townhall) - 10am

We estimate that, since the implementation of the pay-freeze in 2010-11, teachers have lost over 20% of their ‘real-terms’ pay. This has seen the value of the profession devalue as a career choice to the detriment of teachers, pupils, and society alike.

What angered our teachers most is the long-term under-funding of schools, and our children, and of course our teachers.

Teachers are striking for education, and we hope that the public and parents will support us, despite the inconvenience it will cause.

We are taking strike action because we are concerned that cuts to teachers’ pay, and lack of funding for schools, are causing a crisis in education. The facts are:

  • The value of teachers pay has fallen by 20% since 2010.
  • This has caused a crisis in recruitment and retention.
  • More teachers, and school leaders, than ever are leaving their jobs and the government cannot recruit enough teachers to replace them.
  • Funding for schools has not kept in line with rising costs.

This means that:

  • Many schools face difficulties finding the teachers they need.
  • SEND children are not getting the support they need.
  • Schools are spending less on important equipment and resources.
  • Schools are cutting back on extra-curricular clubs and classes.

This cannot go on, for the sake of education the government must change its policy on pay and funding.

We have tried talking to the government - we have provided evidence about this crisis to them year after year, but they have ignored our warnings.

That is why we have reluctantly made the decision to take strike action. We are calling on the government to increase pay for teachers - but they must also increase funding for schools.

We are asking parents and carers to:

  1. Support our strike action and our campaign to boost funding for education.
  2. Talk to teachers at your child’s school to find out more about our campaign and how you can support us.
  3. Contact your MP, MLA and local councillors and tell them that you support teachers taking strike action.

Our arguments are simple and clear, teachers have lost over 20% of their pay in real terms since 2010, and they have suffered a worse pay-decline.

Schools have been similarly underfunded for years, with many unable to afford their current energy bills.

Our children’s education matters and that requires properly paid teachers, support staff and well-funded schools”.

In a recent speech to the NEU NI District Committee, Regional Secretary Mark Langhammer said:

"We are at an important juncture, not only in respect of our current pay claim and industrial action, but also in respect of the future of the teaching profession."

In Northern Ireland, the Teachers initial pay claim in 2021-22 was for 6%. No settlement was reached or agreed. NEU, through the Northern Ireland Teachers Council (NITC) – tabled a fresh three-pronged claim at the TNC (Teachers Negotiating Committee) in September 2022 comprising 6% back paid for 2021-22 and an inflationary rise for 2022-23.

Since George Osborne’s pay-freeze in 2010-11, teachers have lost over a fifth (over 20%) in real terms. The term often used, “The Lost Decade”, is apt. The teaching profession has devalued in that time.

The average teacher has cumulatively lost nearly £20,000 in real earnings between 2008 and 2021, with consequent pension effects. And now, teachers are asked to swallow a further, substantial, real-term inflationary cut.

According to recent research, teachers, along with social workers, have experienced the worst pay growth in the UK in the past decade, while public sector salaries have fallen significantly behind those in the private sector.

Given that education employees have fallen significantly behind other professions and many private-sector peers over the past decade, it would hardly be surprising if more start to seek work elsewhere.

Teachers have also seen, over the past 15 years, a severe and unprecedented decrease in ‘job quality’ with less professional autonomy, lowered task-discretion and significantly increased ‘job-intensity’ – all for ever-lower salaries.

What is it about the job of teaching nowadays that lies behind this trend?

Two answers are commonly given to this question: workload and pay. Workload is typically interpreted in terms of working hours, and one can point to the long hours worked during term-time, compared to other professions, and compared to teachers in other countries.

Our survey work shows teachers routinely working 50+ hours per week, with school leaders working longer again. However, the simple fact of long work hours does not explain why retention has become an increasingly urgent problem, since teachers’ term-time working hours have been relatively high for decades and have not been noticeably increasing.”

Support fair pay in education.


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