Pay disparity? Parity is policy

30th January 2009 at 00:00

I am writing to address the abject lack of balance in the article about Northern Ireland teachers' ("Action over Pounds 20k pay disparity", The TES, January 2).

The NASUWT general secretary and deputy general secretary are generously quoted, but both have consistently displayed their ignorance of Northern Ireland teacher negotiating matters without the faintest glimmer of embarrassment.

Teachers' salaries in Northern Ireland are based on parity with teachers in England and Wales. This parity principle is the policy of the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council - the teachers' side of our teachers' negotiating committee. Parity was also a key recommendation of the Curran independent inquiry into teachers' salaries and conditions of service in 2004.

This in part explains why teachers' pay in Northern Ireland is 20 per cent less than their counterparts' in the Republic of Ireland. The miserable three-year teacher pay deals in England and Wales pertain in Northern Ireland, making a nonsense of the Pounds 20k pay disparity claim.

Performance management and inspection arrangements are more teacher friendly than those in England and Wales, teachers feel more valued and pupil attainment is higher, in spite of the continuance of the 11-plus (being abolished this year).

There has been no dispute about teachers' pay in Northern Ireland over the past five years. It would be tedious to go into detail as to why NASUWT has left the NITC. Opportunism and self interest lie behind its current industrial action in Northern Ireland.

Frank Bunting, Honorary secretary, Northern Ireland Teachers' Council.

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