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Teachers in Strabane go on half-day strike

Thursday, 19 January 2017

TEACHERS at a large number of schools in Strabane and district will go out on strike this morning (Wednesday).

The strike action involving members of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) will see teachers staying out of the classroom until 12.30pm.

The move means many of the affected schools will be closed until after the lunch break.

The action comes as the deadlock between the unions and Education Authority (EA) over pay continues.

Senior officials at the union confirmed this week that the planned half day strike will go ahead in spite of the ongoing crisis at Stormont.

In the run up to Christmas, INTO revealed that its 7,000 members were balloted with an overwhelming majority voting in favour of strike action over the ongoing pay dispute.

Seventy-eight per cent of members in the ballot turnout voted for strike action with 94.97 per cent voting in favour of action short of strike.

Gerry Murphy, northern secretary of the INTO, said: "The INTO has 7,000 members in schools in Northern Ireland across all sectors and age groups. We are confident our members will be supporting this action.

"The ballot, and the strike action, shows the strength of feeling among teachers who want a reasonable pay deal, feel undervalued and who are trying their best, every day, to deliver the best education they can for the children of Northern Ireland.

"We have consistently made it clear that we have been available for further talks with the Minister for Education and the Employing Authorities.

"However, in spite of our ongoing efforts, teachers have yet again been snubbed by the government and it's time those in power on the hill start listening to the people of Northern Ireland."

Mr Murphy added that INTO members are not required to and should refuse to perform any duties whatsoever until 12.30pm today.

Today's action comes ahead of a full day strike on January 31 by National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers (NASUWT) members, the largest teachers' union in Northern Ireland.

Members of two other teaching unions, the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), have voted not to strike. Instead they are taking action short of a strike including non-co-operation with school inspections by the ETI.

The strike action has already been branded as "futile" by Gavin Boyd, chief executive of the Education Authority, who has urged unions to call off the action. Further talks between unions and teaching employers is scheduled for January 24.

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