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Breakthrough in teachers’ pay negotiations?

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THE long-running teachers’ pay dispute which has led to strikes and school closures is believed to be close to coming to an end after a fresh offer was made to NEU members yesterday.

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NEU teachers walked out for eight days in May in protest over what they saw as a consistent erosion of their pay and conditions.

The States Employment Board – which is chaired by Chief Minister John Le Fondré – has been locked in months of pay negotiations across large sections of the public sector.

But the latest negotiations have brought about a breakthrough, with the NEU now due to put a new offer to its members at a meeting on Monday. The offer has already been agreed with union officials and was passed through the SEB yesterday.

And while the full details of the latest offer have not yet been revealed, it is understood that a proposed ‘50-50 gain share’, whereby efficiencies within the Education Department would be split evenly between teachers and over-arching government savings, has been scrapped.

NEU Jersey president Brendan Carolan said: ‘Nothing is done until it is done but we will, I am sure, present it positively.

‘What we have consistently asked for is no real-terms decrease. That is what the offer represents, so how can we not be positive if we are getting what we required? Ultimately, members will make the decision but I am pretty confident members will accept.

‘We have not issued a further strike warning.’

The most recent offer tabled, which covers 2018, 2019 and 2020, included:

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- A consolidated increase in pay from 1 January 2018 of 2%, and an unconsolidated one-off payment of 1.1%.

- A further consolidated increase of 2% from 1 January 2019, and an unconsolidated payment of 1%.

- An increase of inflation pay plus 1.3% from 1 January 2020. The current forecast for inflation is 3.1%.

- A gain-share approach to savings and efficiencies.

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Mr Carolan added: ‘The gain share was something we slapped right back. We will engage in a process of educational reform and we will be looking at ways we can make savings but that money saved will be ploughed back into education and into the kids.

‘There is no suggestion that that money will be used in other areas.’

Mr Carolan likened the breakthrough to getting a ‘0-0 draw away from home after losing ten on the bounce’.

It is not known whether a similar offer has been made to the NASUWT, which has been carrying out industrial action short of strikes, or whether they are close to ending their dispute with the SEB. The JEP has attempted to contact NASUWT officials but did not receive a response before going to print.

The NEU meeting, where a vote on the latest offer will be held, is due to take place at 7pm at the Freedom Centre on Monday.

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