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Northern Ireland is set to witness school closures as teachers from five unions prepare for a half-day walkout, followed by four additional days of strikes due to a prolonged dispute over pay.

With the involvement of a significant number of staff members, the Education Authority (EA) anticipates substantial disruption as a consequence of the strike.

The recent day of strike action by non-teaching education personnel focused on issues related to failed pay reforms and cuts in the education budget.

The upcoming half-day strike on Wednesday, November 29th, will be followed by four more strike days post-Christmas, with head teachers joining the strike for only the second time in the history of their union.

Liam McGuckin, NAHT's NI president, expressed that this action was the ultimate recourse after a year-long dispute with no advancements. He emphasized the critical need for immediate investment to prevent irreparable damage to the educational system.

Represented by the Northern Ireland Teachers Council (NITC), comprising five unions, including NASUWT, INTO, UTU, NEU, and NAHT, teachers and staff have engaged in an ongoing pay dispute for the past 18 months. Rejected in February 2022, the pay offer for 2021-2023 was deemed "inadequate" by unions.

Pressures regarding Stormont's education budget have created uncertainty regarding the funds available to meet the unions' pay demands, labeled as "unaffordable" by the Department of Education.

Jacquie White, UTU's general secretary, described the unprecedented crisis faced by the profession, highlighting the departure of teachers and the looming crisis in the education system.

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT's Northern Ireland official, described the situation as a crisis for members, emphasizing the necessity of striking due to the absence of alternatives.

EA stated that the complete impact of the strike remains unknown, emphasizing the management side's consideration of potential implications. Guidance will be provided to help schools manage the impact on students, with communication channels kept open for parents and students to stay informed about any disruptions. Photo by Ardfern, Wikimedia commons.