Teaching union will pay wages of members who strike in May

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In a show of support for its Jersey staff, the National Education Union has agreed to foot the wage bill for teachers who take to the picket lines, in a move that pushes the stakes higher in the long-running pay dispute with the States Employment Board.

A sustained period of teachers’ strikes and school closures is now much more likely.

The NEU has also confirmed that all States secondary schools are likely to be closed during the strikes, as well as a number of the Island’s primary schools. The rolling strikes will take place over two or three days a week.

Hitting back at claims that the SEB did not receive formal notice of the strikes, NEU Jersey president Brendan Carolan said that that was untrue and accused the board of having communication issues of its own.

‘We announced our action to the SEB at the same time as informing the media,’ he said.

‘As they haven’t had the courtesy to even respond to my emails asking what came of our discussions on 1 April, I feel they have a real nerve to accuse us of any discourtesy with regards to communication.’ Ian McCann, the NEU’s senior regional officer, said that he expected that the strikes would be well supported by NEU members.

‘With our large membership in Jersey we would expect strike action to be well supported and that all secondary schools will be closed, except for Years 11 and 13, as members teaching pupils in those years have been exempt from strike action,’ he said.

‘[We also expect] that a number of primary schools will also be closed as a result of the strike action.

‘The NEU is committed to resolving this dispute at the earliest possible opportunity and are doing all that we can to avoid strike action and will continue to do so.’

The planned strike days are:

  • Wednesday 1 May
  • Tuesday 7 May
  • Wednesday 8 May
  • Wednesday 15 May
  • Thursday 16 May
  • Tuesday 21 May
  • Wednesday 22 May
  • Thursday 23 May

Those teaching Years 11 and 13 have been exempted from strike action to ensure there is no disruption for pupils’ examination preparation.

Responding to the escalating situation, an SEB spokeswoman said: ‘The States Employment Board has agreed that its negotiating team should meet teaching unions next week, through the auspices of the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service. The purpose of these talks is to explore whether a solution can be found to the current pay dispute before planned strikes by the NEU, and action short of strikes by the NASUWT.

‘The Board is aware that the NEU has paid striking members before and is therefore not surprised by their decision to do so again.

‘The Board recognises the potential disruption, to both children’s learning and parents’ workplaces, caused by the NEU’s planned strikes and has called upon the union to reconsider its decision.’

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