Department comments ahead of strike action

Date published: 10 November 2023

Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Dr Mark Browne, has commented ahead of planned strike action by four non-teaching Trade Unions next week.

UNISON, Unite the Union, NIPSA and GMB have notified the Education Authority that members are being called to take part in strike action in relation to a trade dispute linked to a Pay and Grading Review.

Warning of the significant impact on education services Dr Browne said:

“Next week’s planned strike action by UNISON, Unite the Union, NIPSA and GMB will undoubtedly cause significant disruption to services right across the education sector and have a major impact on parents and pupils, including our most vulnerable children and young people.

“This is particularly disappointing given that on 1 November 2023 the NJC Pay award, which covers non-teaching staff in Northern Ireland, was agreed for 2023-24.

“This award increases each pay point on the NJC scale by £1,925 or a minimum of 3.88% and will be backdated to 1 April 2023.  The average increase for non-teaching staff in Northern Ireland is expected to be 8.1%. The pay award means an employee on the lowest pay point in April 2021 will have received an increase in their pay of £4,033 (22.0%) over the two years to April 2023 (pro-rata for part-time employees).”

Approval has been provided to the Education Authority to allow the award to be implemented as soon as possible.

Dr Browne continued: 

“I would urge everyone concerned to re-consider, in light of the serious ramifications of this strike and the severe disruption that will be caused.”

The Department is continuing to engage with the Education Authority on the content of the Pay & Grading business case to ensure the proposals are fully justified and affordable. The proposal put forward by the EA and Trade Unions would have an initial annual implementation cost for the EA of £39m, with the subsequent recurring annual cost rising to £71m after three years. This would be in addition to any national NJC pay rise each year.  However, there is currently no budget available to implement this without significant further funding being made available.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The majority of non-teaching staff are employed by the Education Authority (EA) on nationally agreed National Joint Council (NJC) terms and conditions. The NJC pay settlement for 2023-24 was agreed on 1 November 2023 and will be implemented as soon as possible.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at

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