Northern Ireland

Teaching unions push for pay rise

Schoolgirl in classroom
Image caption Even if a pay deal is reached, it would have to be approved by a minister

Teaching unions have jointly submitted a claim for a 5% cost-of-living pay rise this year, the BBC has learnt.

The Northern Ireland Teachers Council (NITC), which represents the five teaching unions, is seeking the rise from the Department of Education (DE).

However, the department said no cost-of-living increase had been approved for 2017/18.

It also said management did not have the authority to negotiate any such rise.

Negotiations between the NITC and the teaching employers have also been stalled due to ongoing industrial action.

That was prompted by a 0% cost-of-living pay award in 2015-16 and a 1% rise in 2016-17.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation's Gerry Murphy, the salary spokesperson for the NITC, said the unions' 5% claim for 2017-18 was realistic.

"We had initially sought to negotiate a multi-year pay deal," he said.

Image caption The Department of Education said teachers were still being paid incremental pay increases

"That has not been possible due to the political circumstances, so the teaching employers asked us to submit a pay claim for 2017-18.

"That pay claim is for 5%, made up of a cost-of-living rise in line with inflation combined with the further 1% they owe us for 2015-16 when teachers were not awarded a cost of living increase at all.

"In common with other public servants, teachers have suffered a net loss in pay over a number of years due to austerity," he added.

However, Mr Murphy acknowledged that even if agreement was reached on a pay deal with the employers, it could not be approved by the permanent secretary alone without a minister.

The other unions represented by the NITC are the NASUWT, the Ulster Teachers' Union, the National Education Union (NEU) and Lecturers and the National Association of Head Teachers.

The Department of Education said teachers were still being paid incremental pay increases.

"A cost of living increase has not yet been approved in 2017," said a spokesperson.

"While the teaching unions have submitted a 2017 pay claim for a 5% cost-of-living increase, management do not at this point have authority to negotiate on the claim which has been submitted, or to award any cost-of-living pay increase in the absence of pay policy for 2017 as this has not yet been set."

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