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Ulster Teachers’ Union


17th May 2017


NORTHERN Ireland teachers have condemned the Education Authority’s response to their current industrial action as ‘Trumpesque’, and accused it of ‘salami slicing’ budget cuts.

Responding to a letter issued on Friday to schools on behalf of the management side Avril Hall Callaghan, General Secretary UTU, Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council said a ‘very difficult’ situation had now been made even more problematic.    “The letter received by teachers, principals and boards of governors is patronising in tone and content. The letter contains a number of assertions which, far from reassuring teachers and their representatives, will serve only to galvanise teachers in their support of ongoing industrial action and undermine further the already difficult industrial relations climate in education,” she said.

"The current industrial action has, rather than negatively affected children and young people, given teachers more time to spend tailoring lessons to meet the individual needs of pupils. Teachers are in their classrooms teaching pupils rather than being focused upon satisfying unreasonable and unnecessary requests in support of an out of control accountability system with the ETI sitting at its apex.  

“Claims that the average teacher receives just over £40,000 per annum are untrue and ignore the fact that there is no such thing as an average teacher.  Each teacher is in a situation that is unique to the school they are in.   

“The reference to teachers in England and Wales conveniently ignores the reality that a teacher at the top of the scale in England earns significantly more than a teacher here and that a teacher in the Republic of Ireland earns considerably more still.   

“The dismissal of 10% of the teaching workforce making their way up the incremental scale as insignificant is in contrast with the employers’ claims to value and appreciate teachers and allows the writer to conveniently ignore that a teacher’s starting salary is less than £23,000.  

“Teachers have an acute understanding of the challenges the continual reduction to budgets makes – they face them every day in school and do not appreciate being reminded of the challenges that they must address.  If more of the budget was spent on frontline services as opposed to maintaining a bureaucracy at the centre then perhaps the education employers would not find themselves at odds continually with 18,500 teachers.  

“EA has presided over an agenda dominated by cuts to frontline services including controversial reductions to Special Educational Needs provision, the planned removal of free school transport and countless other salami slicing exercises in respect of service provision.  Blaming teachers for undermining children’s education is a charge teachers totally reject and we would invite the education employers to reflect on their actions in this respect.   Having patronised teachers and characterised a very difficult industrial relations climate in a “Trumpesque” fashion is unhelpful and disrespectful and will make resolving this very difficult dispute more difficult.”    

For more information please contact UTU Gen Sec, Avril Hall Callaghan on 02890 662216 or 07808 363702 or her deputy Jacquie White on 07764 899288 or Mandi Millar  on 077 1966 4642