Mid Ulster teachers urge MLAs to put education first

From left, Avril Hall-Callaghan from UTU, Alastair Donaghy, ATL and Gerry Murphy, national secretary of INTO, at the launch of Stand up for Education
From left, Avril Hall-Callaghan from UTU, Alastair Donaghy, ATL and Gerry Murphy, national secretary of INTO, at the launch of Stand up for Education

Door-knocking politicians in Mid-Ulster were lobbied by teachers in a new campaign calling on all parties to put education at the forefront of their political agenda.

In the next few weeks the new MLAs will gather at Stormont to set out their plan for government for the next five years.

Teachers across Mid Ulster are calling on them to work together to develop a long term strategy where education is protected from the burden of austerity.

The three largest teachers’ unions, INTO, UTU and ATL, which collectively represent over 16,000 teachers, head teachers and lecturers, directly asked politicians on the electioneering trail what their party will do to ensure education is well resourced.

Gerry Murphy, INTO’s Northern Secretary, said: “The next Education Minister, from whichever party they are, must be aware that INTO, UTU and ATL will not allow the draconian measures, which have been imposed on our colleagues in England and Wales, to be imposed here.

“We will continue to vigorously oppose, by all means necessary, any changes to the education system that has a negative effect on our members in Mid Ulster and the young people in their care.

“We are demanding politicians take heed of and action a strategy which places education at the centre of policy making.

“INTO, UTU and ATL want the pay of teachers to return to the 2008 level in real terms with reimbursement for the pay loss since 2008 and removal of the power of veto of the Minister Of Finance and Personnel over teachers’ annual cost of living increase.

“Teachers’ pay is almost 15 per cent less in real terms than in September 2010. Teachers are working longer for less pay, their pension contributions have risen twice in the last two years, with normal retirement age also rising.

“The new government must address these serious issues because the next generation will suffer which will have a detrimental impact on families, the wider community and the overall economy.”