Teachers to picket school gates?

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Coleraine teachers will mount school gate pickets tomorrow (Tuesday) in response to their employer’s latest pay offer ‘insult’.

Jacquie Reid from the town, a former teacher at Millburn Primary and Deputy General Secretary of the UTU, said both her union and colleagues in the INTO had been forced to make this very public protest to raise awareness about the crisis situation.

She also said they had not ruled out strike action.

“The fact that teachers are prepared to picket the gates of their schools shows just how serious the situation has become.

“It is dire and we must ensure that parents appreciate the crisis in the education system in which they place their faith – and their children – every day,” continued Ms Reid.

“Those children are at the heart of everything teachers do and it is only because of this, that teachers have kept the education system functioning to date. It has been running on little more than teacher goodwill for some time now.

“The employers have been taking for granted teacher goodwill and teachers have had enough.

“Picketing their school gates, raising the issue directly with parents, is a necessary first step to inform them of the crisis unfolding over teachers’ pay and to ask them to support teachers by lobbying their MLAs on the issue.

“We are also calling on Boards of Governors ask them to write to the Education Minister about the dire funding situation which has resulted in no salary increase for teachers for last year – even though we believe that the money set aside to back-pay teachers for 2015/16 was actually returned to Westminster!

“This only rubs salt in the wound and shows the utter contempt in which the employers seem to hold our profession.

“This is without doubt the worst situation schools have had to face since the austerity measures were introduced.

“Teachers have been extremely patient in accepting below inflation increases for five years but the failure to award a cost of living rise at all for 2015/16 has been ‘the straw to break the camel’s back’ and teachers are quite rightly incensed at what they believe to be the exploitation of their goodwill to date.

“The Minister needs to listen to us and appreciate the depth of feeling within the profession. Failure to do so will inevitably lead to a worsening of this crisis.”