Minister addresses pay and grading dispute with Joint Negotiating Council

Date published: 20 February 2024

Education Minister Paul Givan has met with the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) Trade Union Side to discuss a range of issues including pay and grading for support staff.

Graphic that says - Minister addresses pay and grading for support staff.
Minister addresses pay and grading dispute with Joint Negotiating Council

The Minister wrote to JNC Trade Union Secretaries seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the Pay & Grading Review business case and ongoing industrial action as a result of the delay in its implementation.

Speaking after the meeting today the Minister said:

“I have made it clear to JNC members today that the resolution of all industrial action is a priority for me.

“I underlined to unions my gratitude for the contribution made by support staff to the education and lives of our children and young people. Without their outstanding dedication and hard work, those who are most dependent on the services they provide, would not receive the vital support they need and deserve.

“I very much regret the serious impact that strike action is having on the education and wellbeing of children and young people across Northern Ireland, most especially those who attend our special schools where the effect is felt most acutely.”

The JNC comprises four unions NIPSA, UNISON, GMB and Unite the Union.

Paul Givan added:

I want all staff in the education sector to be paid at a fair level for the job they do, however there are significant costs associated with a resolution of current strike action.

“I am committed to resolving the issues around the business case and will be bidding for additional funding in Executive’s Budget 2024-25 to enable the recommendations from the pay and grading review to be implemented.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Pay & Grading Review is separate from the annual pay award for support staff.  The vast majority of support staff (over 95%) have a contractual entitlement to national pay awards as agreed by the National Joint Council (NJC).  Failure to implement these pay awards would lead to legal claims and industrial action.  The NJC pay award for 2023/24 was £1,925 per FTE pay point or a minimum of 3.88%.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at

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