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Employment board criticises teachers' strike action

Employment board criticises teachers' strike action

Friday 08 December 2023

Employment board criticises teachers' strike action

Friday 08 December 2023


Confirmation that a three-day teachers’ strike will go ahead next week has drawn criticism from the Government about the negative impact on pupils, parents and the community.

As the National Education Union confirmed that its members had rejected the Government’s latest pay offer and would go ahead with the strike from Tuesday, the newly-appointed Vice-Chair of the States Employment Board expressed concern at the impact of the action.

Deputy Elaine Millar said: “We are extremely disappointed by the NEU’s decision to reject what we believe was a very good offer. An offer that no other public servant has received, or will be receiving.

“As a result, the three days of strike action by NEU members next week will severely impact pupils, parents and our community.”

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Pictured: Deputy Elaine Millar was appointed as Vice-Chair of the States Employment Board after Andy Jehan's recent resignation.

In addition to a 7.9% pay rise for 2023, teachers had been offered an 8% increase from 1 January 2024, a one-off payment of £1,000 on the same date and pay rises matching inflation for 2025 and 2026.

The other main teaching union, the NASUWT, which had been working-to-rule, suspended its action earlier this week while members voted on the revised offer, and the results are expected to be announced after the ballot closes on 15 December. The union currently has no plans to strike.

Caryn Symons, Senior Regional Officer for the NEU, said the fact that 76% of those eligible had taken part in this week's online ballot – and that three-quarters had voted to reject the deal – showed the strength of feeling among teachers.

She said: "The current offer simply does not address the real terms pay cut and the issues being experienced in Jersey by the escalating costs of living – our members continue to struggle with their bills and supporting their families.

"This continues to have a real effect on Jersey's ability to recruit and retain teachers – you've got to make potential recruits want to come to Jersey, and to be able to afford to come."

The NEU has already staged strikes earlier in the autumn term, although the most recent action at the start of November was postponed as a gesture of goodwill after schools were forced to close for at least two days because of Storm Ciarán.

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Pictured: Strikes took place in the Royal Square earlier this year.

Ms Symons said that while NEU officials remained willing to attend meetings with the SEB at short notice, there had been an indication from the SEB that it would await the result of the NASUWT ballot.

This left very little scope to make progress with pay talks before term ended on 19 December, she added.

Striking teachers will gather at the Town Hall on Tuesday, the first day of next week's strike action, in order to share their concerns. Further activities are being lined up for Wednesday and Thursday, but details have yet to be finalised.

The Government has confirmed that any pay deal agreed would apply to all teachers. This means that even if the latest offer was accepted by the NASUWT, its members – plus any teacher who did not belong to either union – would still stand to benefit if the NEU was subsequently successful in securing a better deal.

The strikes will take place on 12, 13 and 14 December.

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