Time for teachers to focus on the future - Weir

Date published: 23 November 2016

Teachers must focus on pupils and the future now that pay negotiations have concluded.

Education Minister Peter Weir said that negotiations for 2015/16 and 2016/17 were over and that teachers had been treated fairly and in line with the Northern Ireland Executive Pay Policy.

Speaking during an Education Committee briefing, the Minister said:

“I want to acknowledge the quality of our teaching workforce and the significant contribution they make to the education and development of our children.

“I have always stated that my first priority is to pupils.  It is my job to find the right balance between protecting schools budgets and delivering a fair increase to teaching salaries.

“Negotiations for teachers’ pay for 15/16 and 16/17 concluded on 12 October when the teaching unions confirmed that the pay discussions were over.  In effect, the unions rejected the management side offer.

“I believe teaching unions should reflect again on planned disruption, as industrial action is not in the interests of children, schools or teachers themselves. I would urge them to go back to the negotiating table for future years and to accept that the pay offer they walked away from is as good as it is going to get for 2015/16 to 2016/17.”

Outlining the October offer, the Minister said the overall pay deal equated to an increase of 2.61%.

Continuing the Minister said:

“This two-year pay award is realistic in the current difficult financial climate.  It is not a pay cut. The 2.61% deal equates to £26 million to be found from within the Education Budget. It includes incremental progression for September 2015 and 2016 – something which teachers in England and Wales do not receive. All teachers in Northern Ireland will receive a 1% pay increase payable from September 2016. 

“It must also be noted that during extensive negotiations from July last year, better offers were made by Management Side to teaching unions, which were also rejected. 

“Teachers’ pay negotiations for 2015/16 and 2016/17 have now been and gone so any strike action is futile.  Teachers engaged in a day’s strike action will lose a day’s pay, effectively much of the 1% the unions are saying they are fighting for.  It is time for the situation to move on and focus on the future.”

Notes to editors: 

1.  Briefing note - Key facts on teachers’ pay negotiations.

  • Teachers pay negotiations are carried out between Management Side and the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (comprising the five recognised teaching unions in NI).
  • Four out of the five recognised unions have been engaged in industrial action short of strike for a number of years (INTO, UTU, ATL and NASUWT).
  • As part of the 2015/16 teachers’ pay negotiations, in January 2016 the Northern Ireland Teaching Council rejected an offer for a 1.37% cost of living increase on top of the estimated cost of incremental progression (1.13%). This would have given an overall pay increase of an estimated 2.5% for 2015/16..
  • The NITC had agreed to engage with Management Side on the removal of automatic time served incremental progression by September 2016; however, agreement was not reached on this matter through negotiations. 

Teachers pay in England and Wales

  • It is not true to say that teachers in NI are paid 16% less than in some areas of the UK, when comparing teachers on pay scales set by respective government departments.
  • Teachers in England and Wales no longer have automatic time served incremental progression but did receive 1%. In 2015 and 2016. They no longer have pay points but a scale with a minimum and maximum point. However, teachers’ trades unions in Northern Ireland have rejected the English model in favour of retaining the entitlement to incremental progression on a time served basis.
  • Teachers in NI continue to have entitlement to automatic incremental progression on an annual basis, while for teachers in England and Wales September 2013 was the last time they received incremental progression based upon length of service. The NITC want both. This is not in line with Northern Ireland Executive Pay Policy.
  • Minimum and maximum pay points in Northern Ireland for 2016 are £22,243 to £108,282 (1% lower than in England & Wales).   However, had the NITC accepted the offer made by Management Side of an additional 1.37% to buy out the automatic right to incremental progression then this would not be the case.

Teachers in Scotland 

  • The Scottish Negotiating Committee reached a pay settlement for teachers to cover the period 2015 to 2017; which was for a 1.5% uplift in 2015/2016 and a 1% uplift in 2016/17. The cost of incremental progression is on top of this.
  • The NITC was invited by Management Side to submit a revised pay claim at several stages through the negotiations, and were therefore at liberty to submit a claim along those lines.  It did not do so.
  • Management side did make an offer of 2.5% for 2015 to the NITC, made up of 1.37% cost of living on top of incremental progression already paid.  It is unfortunate that the NITC rejected that offer.

2.  Follow us on Twitter @education_NI

3.  See photos from the Department of Education in our flickr collection.

4.  Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383, and your call will be returned.

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