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Teachers’ pay row: ‘End strikes and go to arbitration’

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DENYING children their education is ‘beyond the pale’ and damaging the Island, a States Deputy has warned as he called on teachers and the States to end the days of planned strike action and go to arbitration.

Deputy Kirsten Morel Picture: ROB CURRIE. (24647687)

Members of teaching union the National Education Union have already walked out three times this month with a further five days of strikes planned.

But Deputy Kirsten Morel said both sides need to agree to arbitration as the current situation is not fair on children and parents who are being affected by the school closures.

Deputy Morel said that the other main teaching union – the NASUWT – was still in dispute but was not forcing children to miss out on education.

He said: ‘Given that one of the unions is still in dispute but isn’t actually taking strike action it is clear that the NEU could maintain its dispute while not resorting to strikes and certainly not two strikes a week.

‘On the other side, I do understand that the States Employment Board haven’t really moved and that the NEU have found it difficult to negotiate.

‘The people who are paying for all of this are children and their families. The cost to their education, as well as Island businesses with people having to take time off work, is huge.’

Civil service unions have agreed to mediation through the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service. Deputy Morel believes that as the negotiations appear to have reached a stalemate between the NEU and the SEB, the time has come for both sides to agree to arbitration.

Talks to resolve the dispute involving the two teaching unions and the States Employment Board have so far failed, with teachers unhappy over years of below-inflation pay awards which they say have eroded their standard of living.

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‘Can the SEB and the NEU claim to be putting children first? If the NEU have claims they think are strong they should have confidence in the arbitration process,’ he said.

‘By not going to arbitration all it does is continue the dispute and that puts the costs onto children, their parents and families and then business.

‘They have got to find a way that isn’t so damaging to the Island.

‘The NEU should be putting children’s education first. The way round that is to go through the arbitration process and trust them to settle the dispute.’

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Further strike action is planned for Wednesday and Thursday this week as well as Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 May.

Deputy Morel added: ‘It seems as if the sides are a long way apart. The SEB have to think what is best for the Island not just the public purse. Likewise, the NEU have to think about what is best for the Island’s children.

‘Many other unions have gone down other routes. To be denying children education in an Island that claims to be putting children first, for me, is beyond the pale.’

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