Strike follows Secretary of State’s punitive budget that has left Education Department unable to deliver pay & grading business case

Unite the union members employed by the Education Authority are set to commence seven days of strike action tomorrow [15th June]. The industrial action follows an overwhelming ballot result in which 94% of Unite members voted for strike action.

The strike results from the failure of the Department of Education to implement a pay and grading review. The review would see significant increases to the pay of Education Authority workers but its implementation has been prevented as a result of the punitive budget set for the Department by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The strike involves more than 700 education workers and will extend for seven weekdays. Schools across Northern Ireland are likely to experience significant disruption as a result as Unite's membership includes school bus drivers, escorts and maintenance workers, catering staff, classroom assistants, playground supervisors, school administrative staff, cleaners, building supervisors and ground maintenance staff.

The General Secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, committed her union’s full support for the striking education workers.

“It is totally unacceptable education workers in Northern Ireland have been denied this improvement as a result of this punishing budget set by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This budget is not enough to maintain education services – let alone offer any protection to education workers in the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

Chris Heaton-Harris’ brutal austerity budget is the cause of this strike action. Unite’s members working in education can be guaranteed the full support of this union in their fight for decent wages and to safeguard education services in Northern Ireland.

Kieran Ellison is lead Regional Officer for Unite in the Education Authority workforce.

Our members working for the Education Authority have had enough. With a 94% majority they voted for strike action and we are now commencing seven days of action. If we do not see any movement to improve the budget or deliver the pay & grading review, this strike is likely to escalate further in the new academic year.

“Responsibility for the impact that this strike will have resides squarely at the feet of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He has set a brutal budget that fails our children, fails our schools and fails the workers who deliver the service.”