NEU invites NASUWT to join strike action on teachers’ pay
A SECOND teaching union has been invited to join strike action and present a united approach in the long-running pay dispute.
The NEU is currently in the middle of a planned eight days of strike action throughout this month.
Ian Stevenson, NEU regional secretary, has now written to the NASUWT asking them to join colleagues in walking out from schools later this week.
The NASUWT are also in dispute with the States Employment Board but have not engaged in strike action in May, instead opting for action similar to work-to-rule.
However, Mr Stevenson, who said NEU membership in Jersey grew by 5% in the two weeks after announcing their series of strikes, has now called on NASUWT members to join them.
The union was due to begin a second consecutive day of negotiations with the SEB this morning.
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.
Yesterday, Deputy Kirsten Morel said the NEU should find a way to return to classrooms by agreeing to arbitration. Civil service unions are currently going through a mediation process.
Mr Stevenson said: ‘At present, we are working under Jersey’s industrial relations rule. That is a process of conciliation and mediation that we are doing through the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service.
‘We remain optimistic that we can progress these talks and reach a resolution to the dispute.
‘We always regret the fact that there is an impact on children’s education. But, we would suggest that the politicians have to look at the long-term.
‘By paying teachers properly you will be creating a better place for teachers to come and work.
‘We are seeing shortages in key subjects and the turnover of teachers is already high in Jersey. That is the future Jersey faces if it does not increase the real terms of the level of teacher pay.’
He added that Jersey’s strategic reserves – in the region of £850 million – gave the SEB the ‘kind of wiggle room most European countries would love to have’ during negotiations.
And Mr Stevenson said that he had not seen a response from the NASUWT regarding the invitation to join strike action.
‘Since 2014, the NASUWT has been in a social partnership agreement with the government. They negotiate separately and we understand they have the right to do so.
‘We both have the same aim – to improve pay and conditions for teachers. NASUWT are taking action short of strike action.
‘We have written to them and formally invited them to join us in taking strike action. We believe a joint approach is the best way to put pressure on the government.’
NEU members, which number over 500 people in Jersey, are due to strike again tomorrow and Thursday.
An SEB spokesperson said: ‘Government officials are meeting the NASUWT and NEU teaching unions this week, under the auspices of the Jersey Arbitration and Conciliation Service, and hope for constructive and purposeful discussions on matters of concern to both parties. We will meet for as long and as often as necessary to work towards an outcome that resolves the pay dispute, ensures effective use of resources, secures improved working conditions for teachers, and further enhances the quality of education received by children and young people in Jersey’s education system.’