Thousands of teachers' jobs could be at risk in Northern Ireland because of the rationalisation of schools, the NASUWT Annual Conference has heard today.
A motion debated by members at the Birmingham conference has deplored the decimation of public services in Northern Ireland as a result of the ideologically driven austerity policy of the Westminster Government.
The Conference has endorsed a call for the National Executive to continue to campaign by all appropriate means, including industrial action, for the centralising of the school workforce, the implementation of a single employing authority, a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and the safeguarding of members' salaries.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in Northern Ireland, said:
"In Northern Ireland, there is a lot of work to be done to reform the provision of school places. It is regrettable such work has not been progressed sooner.
"Savage and unnecessary austerity measures have taken a massive toll on education and other public services in Northern Ireland.
"The rationalisation of schools presents an enormous challenge in this context.
"Whilst the minister's commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies is welcome, even if this is achieved, job loss will be widespread across the system.
"Children and young people will lose experienced and committed teachers and ensuring they receive the best education will be even more difficult."
Seamus Searson, NASUWT Northern Ireland Organiser said:
"The failure to manage the school estate properly in the past presents an enormous challenge in this context now.
"The NASUWT will continue its industrial action to defend teachers' jobs and protect standards of education."
NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham from April 6th to the 9th.
The full text of the motion to be debated is below.
2(c) RESTRUCTURING EDUCATION
Peter Scott to move, Fred Brown to second:
Conference deplores the decimation of public services in Northern Ireland as a result of the Westminster Government’s ideologically driven austerity policy and is deeply concerned about the damaging effects on the education service.
Conference congratulates the resolve shown by members in Northern Ireland over the last three years, in the face of considerable opposition, for their continuing fight for rights, respect and justice for teachers.
Conference recognises that the failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to manage the school estate in the past now presents an even greater challenge to resolve at a time of severe budget cuts and that the rationalisation of schools could put the jobs of thousands of teachers at risk.
Conference calls upon the National Executive to continue to campaign by all appropriate means, including industrial action, for:
(i) the centralising of the costs of the school workforce, revenue and capital costs to maximise the advantages of economies of scale;
(ii) the full implementation of a single employing authority for schools and the reform of the school funding arrangements to minimise the threat to teachers’ jobs;
(iii) a guarantee from the Education Minister of no compulsory redundancies and
(iv) a policy of staff restructuring, which includes salary safeguarding and which protects members from additional workload arising from the review of school places.
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