SDLP MLA for Newry & Armagh Justin McNulty has called on Minister Michelle McIlveen to focus her attentions on ensuring teaching staff receive a fair pay increase.
He was speaking after the Minister confirmed striking teachers could face pay deductions.
A number of teaching unions in the North are considering strike action over the failure to agree a fair pay increase and better working conditions.
Mr McNulty said:
“It’s incredible that after all our teaching staff have been through over the past few years that they are being threatened with pay deductions for daring to use their right to strike action in an attempt to secure fair pay and working conditions. Instead of doing everything within her power to address these issues so that staff don’t feel the need to strike, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has doubled down on this threat and confirmed staff could have their salary deducted.
“During the coronavirus pandemic our teachers went above and beyond to ensure that children’s education could continue in very difficult circumstances. Many teachers put themselves in harm’s way in the workplace and they were not helped by the pitiful response to the pandemic by successive Education Ministers, who failed to put the necessary protections in place. The SDLP recognises the contribution our teaching staff have made and that’s why prior to the recent Assembly election we committed ourselves to an above inflation pay rise for teachers and school support staff.
“Rather than talking about pay deductions Minister McIlveen should be getting around the table with unions and thrashing out a pay agreement and improved working conditions so that our teachers feel respected and valued and no longer see the need for strike action. We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis that is putting pressure on people right across our society and talk of this cut shows a real lack of empathy around the issues people are facing.
“It’s unbelievable that we have a DUP Minister talking about cutting teacher’s pay, when they refuse to do their own jobs and continue to boycott our institutions, while receiving full pay themselves. Their actions are having a negative impact on everyone, including our education sector.”