Further teacher strike dates announced

Teachers strike in the Royal Square. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (36748773)

THREE further strike days have been announced by Jersey’s largest teaching union as part of a continuing dispute over pay.

Members of the NEU will strike on 17 and 18 October, with new dates on 14, 15 and 16 November – the union said that all 33 States’ schools would be affected with ‘large numbers’ due to close to students.

At a meeting with their employer on Wednesday, the NEU declined to enter arbitration with no further pay offer on the table, saying they would not “forego their rights to participate in open negotiation, take industrial action and allow a third party to make a decision for our members via arbitration”.

Nick Childs, senior regional officer for NEU, said: “We have little faith in binding arbitration that saw members in Guernsey have a below inflation pay award imposed earlier this year. We are calling on the States Employment Board to engage in genuine negotiations over the erosion in teachers’ pay. To date negotiation has been minimal. This is how we will resolve this dispute.”

Fellow senior regional officer Caryn Symons accused the SEB of not sharing their values and commitment to “Jersey and the education for the children living on the Island”.

“Our teachers deserve better. We have repeatedly shared our concerns about retention and recruitment and the education crisis that exists in Jersey. Our members share with us frequently their concerns around the cost of living in Jersey and the struggles of paying the bills and making ends meet,” she said.

A statement released by the SEB said that the “door was effectively closed” to a resolution of the dispute this year but that talks for 2024 with “the potential of a multi-year pay settlement” would begin later this month. Teachers have now received an uplift of 7.9% consolidated pay in August, and a backdated amount to 1 January 2023 in the September pay run.

Members of the other main teaching union, the NASUWT, withdrew from taking strike action following an agreement with the SEB to implement the consolidated 7.9% pay award, and subsequently backdate the pay award to 1 January 2023 but remain in dispute.

SEB vice-chair Constable Andy Jehan said that they had hoped they could reach a conclusion to the dispute.

“We were prepared to put our case to an independent person through ‘binding arbitration’ and be bound by their determination, having put forward a fair and reasonable offer. I know there are many teachers who want to just get on with the job without disruption, and I am equally sorry that continued industrial action impacts them as well,” he said.

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