Teacher’s union not surprised Principals joined strike

AN ENNISKILLEN teacher has said it was no surprise to see headteachers join in with their workforce in going out on strike last week.

Schools across Fermanagh and the North were closed last week with pickets spending the bulk of the morning protesting outside their respective schools before heading off to a major rally at Belfast’s City Hall.

Pat McGovern, who teaches at Mt. Lourdes School and is the Fermanagh & Omagh Secretary of the NASUWT union, stated that the same strength of feeling felt amongst teachers over pay, conditions and cuts was mirrored by school principals across the county.


“All the unions, including the headteacher’s union, had been on action (short of strike action),” said McGovern. “They chose not to take part in the last strike but they had come on board this time round.

“I knew that from the feeling of strength from within the headteacher’s union that I had no doubt they would be joining the strikes as time went on.

“The headteachers coming out on strike as well shows how difficult it is for them having to manage to live within their budgets. I think it’s a fact that we’ve got to the stage now that a large proportion of the budget is being eaten up.

“The budget for education is going to be cut by £70million in the next year. We keep hearing about things that are unsustainable. But it is unsustainable to run a full education system with an ever-decreasing amount of money.

“I think the strike day itself was very successful. The word is that the majority – if not all – the schools were closed with teachers showing out in their strength in both the pickets and in the rally at the City Hall in Belfast.

“The feeling has been shown to be quite strong in relation to the fact that there is no offer of a cost of living rise in their wages.”

With no end in sight to the dispute over pay and working conditions, McGovern stated that industrial action could escalate even further if a settlement is not negotiated.


He added: “There is a feeling that the government are trying to wear us down by dragging out negotiations.

“I honestly think that teachers have got to the stage where they’ve been left with no choice. Nobody chooses lightly to go out on strike.

“It’s the case that the fact that we have got to this stage shows the frustration there is among my profession.

“In terms of striking for two or three days in succession if the situation is not resolved in the future, nothing is off the table in terms of what action to take next.

“We have a strong mandate for strike action and I feel that action short of strike action will continue – and even escalate – but strike action for two consecutive days or more could be on the cards.”

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