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Hundreds of teachers to walk out in pay protest

Hundreds of teachers to walk out in pay protest

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Hundreds of teachers to walk out in pay protest


Schools could close or be forced to operate on a "vastly reduced basis" as hundreds of teachers strike for a full day this month in protest over wage cuts.

Major teachers' union NASUWT announced the news yesterday afternoon, with the National Education Union (NEU) later confirming it had also called 200 local members to take part.

The strike will take place on 26 February - a day when the States Assembly meets. NASUWT have called all their members to action, while NEU has pushed for strikes across seven schools: Haute Vallée, Hautlieu, Jersey College for Girls, Grainville, Les Quennevais, Le Rocquier and Victoria College.

Without clear moves from the Government to amend their offer after that, the NEU warned that the schools not taking part in this strike would be called out within a fortnight.

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Pictured: The initial full-day strike will take place across seven schools.

Both unions said that the decision came in reaction to wages not keeping in step with rises in the cost of living - something the NEU's General Secretary said he hoped would be resolved during last-ditch pay talks with the Government on Monday during the weekend's 'March for Fair Pay'.

NASUWT said that inflation has now exceeded rises in earnings for such a long period of time that they expected average pay for teachers and lecturers to be down by more than 15% by 2020.

The union's General Secretary said the strike should be taken by the States Employment Board as an urgent sign the body should "reconsider its position" that "there is no more money" for pay increases.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, commented: “The NASUWT has been left with no option than to call a day of strike action after negotiations with the States over pay failed to make any progress yesterday.

“The SEB are putting the world-class status of Jersey’s schools at risk by refusing to recognise the indisputable need for a substantial pay increase.

“Teachers’ pay over the last decade has been cut by well over 10% in real terms, this is impacting on teachers’ standard of living and the States’ ability to recruit and retain the best staff."

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Pictured: Many teachers turned out to take part in the 'March for Fair Pay' on Saturday.

He added that the union's members are "angry about the imposed pay award and angry teachers are being treated differently", stating that: “The NASUWT deeply regrets having to resort to strike action and any resultant disruption which will be caused to pupils and parents; however the SEB’s refusal to work with us to address the issue of pay has left NASUWT members with no option.

“We call on the SEB to reconsider its position as a matter of urgency.”

NEU Regional Secretary Andy Woolley reinforced this call, commenting: "We are always willing to talk about ways of settling this dispute but the States Employment Board and their negotiators need to come back to us with something much more acceptable than what is on the table. Teachers do not take action lightly but their feelings are running high as we know are those of the members of other unions who we hope to work alongside in this dispute.”

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Pictured: The strike action comes after pay talks with the Government stalled on Monday.

He added: “It is not good enough for some politicians to say that they value what our members do if they oversee a fall in their standard of living year upon year. It’s time to make a stand.

"We are not asking for massive increases in what teachers earn, just that their real incomes do not fall but at least keep pace with inflation with some reasonable catch up for what they have sacrificed during the years of austerity to help out the economy."

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