Sandra Overend MLA, Ulster Unionist Education Spokesperson, has expressed her increasing concern about the ongoing teachers’ pay dispute.
Mrs Overend said:
“There is continuing concern about the ongoing teachers’ pay dispute which has now been plunged into uncertainty going into the Christmas break. With no budget being presented to the Assembly, schools have been left in a state of limbo over the Christmas period.
“I am not convinced that the Education Minister has any desire to resolve this ongoing dispute. In fact, the Minister has recently referred to the teaching dispute as a matter which has already been settled. It looks as though he is hiding his head in the sand, hoping that if he waits it out, this problem will just go away. Being in tune with the feeling on the ground, I can only conclude that the Minister is completely out of touch with reality on this issue. Ultimately it is the pupils who will suffer the most as a result of this debacle.
“The Education Minister has belittled the concerns of teachers and has sneered when I and fellow MLAs have tried to impress upon him the severity of the situation. He has also dismissed as a myth the fact that Northern Ireland teachers should have received a similar 1% pay rise as their counterparts in England in 2015/16. Teachers have been showing me payslips that clearly show that their current take home pay is lower now than it was in 2008 despite being in a position where they are doing more work and have more responsibilities. Surely this is an indication of the reality of the situation.
“Further concerns by teachers surround the idea of moving to a performance-related pay system. This would put teachers and schools in a state of competition which is concerning, especially at a time when continued professional development does not seem to be a priority for the Department.
“This issue has been ongoing now for six years. Enough is enough. The Minister and the Executive must bring proposals to resolve this issue when they present the budget after Christmas.”