March 4 In the Press

Teachers’ union prepares for industrial action as 79% vote in favour of strike

By Eleanor McGillie

AN overwhelming majority of 79 per cent of teachers in Ireland’s largest teachers’ union have voted in favour of strike action following the results of a ballot against education budget cuts.

The ballot, which was conducted among the 6,647 members from schools and colleges against the Department of Education’s proposed budget cuts, resulted in a 34.45% return, a 78.67% in favour of strike action and a 97.02% majority in favour of industrial action short of strike.

Gerry Murphy, the Northern Secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, said the ballot results mean that on Friday, March 13, INTO members will stand alongside their trade union colleagues in demonstrations organised by NIC-ICTU.

“This result quite frankly speaks for itself. John O’Dowd has told the education committee schools will likely see 500 job losses for teachers and 1,000 for non-teaching staff due to £28m cuts to his budget. Our members are saying ‘enough is enough’.

“Our members have taken the opportunity to express their opinion on the present state of the education system. They have delivered a clear message to those who are charged with managing our education system. They have had enough of the cuts agenda. They demand an end to make do with less. INTO members have had enough of their profession being ripped apart to balance the Stormont budget. They demand and expect change.”

The results of the ballot comes just a week after INTO held their annual Northern Conference in Limavady where the Education Minister John O’Dowd was candidly told that ‘enough is enough’.

Mr Murphy, who addressed the Minister at the conference, said he will now be holding an emergency meeting of the Northern Executive to determine the nature of the industrial action.

He said: “That meeting will determine the nature and scope of the industrial action that our members will undertake. These actions will send a clear message to those in authority that change must now occur. Our action will target those who are responsible for the cuts in our education system. INTO will ensure the voice of its members is heard loudly and clearly in the corridors of power by those who insist that austerity is a given.”

Mr Murphy added:  “INTO members are demanding a restoration of their professional status. INTO  will now prepare for a campaign to take forward the members demands and the campaign will continue until they are met.

“The window of opportunity for those in power to alter course and agree with INTO an alternate education strategy is closing fast. If there is no engagement before our industrial action begins, then the responsibility for the consequences of our action will lie with those who know the cost of educating a child but not the value.

“INTO is no longer prepared to allow the teaching profession to be devalued and the education of today’s young people and future generations to be tossed on the bonfire of austerity. It is not too late for those in authority to reflect on the message coming out of this ballot.”

ENDS:

NOTES TO EDITOR:

  • INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. It is the largest teachers’ union in Ireland. INTO has a Northern Office and a Southern Office. Our Northern Office is based at Vere Foster House, 23 College Gardens, Belfast. #INTOstrike
  • INTO has 6,647 members in Northern Ireland – NEELB – 980; SEELB – 794; BELB – 1,160; WELB – 1,568; SELB – 2,147
  • For interview requests or further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379| Education PR | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations Belfast UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK |

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