Petition Stop the strikes and support our teachers

Jersey’s schools are in a state of crisis because they will only be open for seven days during May as a result of the strikes. There is an ongoing dispute between The States Employment Board and the National Education Union. The SEB need to recognise how important the role of the teacher is.

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The National Education Union is leading the strikes. The Island’s teachers have been locked in a long-running pay dispute with the States Employment Board for months because they are unhappy at receiving below-inflation pay awards for 2018 and 2019.

Another teaching union, the NASUWT, is engaged in a programme of industrial action, with members refusing to cover classes for absent colleagues.

A total of 20 schools (10 primary schools and 10 secondary schools) are currently affected by the strikes.

The education minister has said that parents will not be reimbursed school fees or compensated for loss of earnings or child care costs because of the Island’s teachers going on strike this month. More importantly, Jersey's children are missing out on their education.

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 14 June 2019

Throughout the negotiations, all reasonable steps were taken to resolve matters. There was never any reason to call strikes whilst talks were still happening, in the view of the SEB.

The States Employment Board, as the Employer for all teachers, has been in active negotiations with both teaching unions throughout much of 2018 and 2019 to date. The Board is always fully aware of the commitment to children but also recognises the need to be fiscally responsible.

The negotiating team including the Group Director of Education, met the teaching unions on twelve occasions since 20 February 2019: twice with NEU, three times with NASUWT and seven times with both NEU and NASUWT. Nine of these meetings have been held under the auspices of the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS), utilising the experience of JACS as an independent third-party to achieve progress through mediation.

Throughout the negotiations, all reasonable steps were taken to resolve matters. There was never any reason to call strikes whilst negotiations were still happening, in the view of the Board.

Towards the end of 2018, it became clear that unions would not accept the offer on the table for 2018 and 2019, which would have seen pay increase by 2.0% in each of the two years, with a further 1.1% of unconsolidated one-off money paid in respect of 2018 and another lump sum of 1.0% paid in respect of 2019.

SEB subsequently authorised further negotiations involving the offer of a consolidated increase of pay based on the September 2019 Retail Prices (All-Items) Index, payable from 1 January 2020. Negotiators presented offers to the teaching unions of RPI plus 0.6%, subsequently increased to RPI plus 1.0%, and then to RPI plus 1.3%. This would give teachers – more than 80% of whom earn £50,000 a year or more – a consolidated increase from 1 January 2020 of 4.4%, based on the current RPI forecast of 3.1%. The Final offer committed a further guaranteed consolidated increase to salaries of 0.8% with effect from 1 January 2020 in acknowledgement of the unions’ full engagement and involvement with an Education Reform Programme.

The Board are of the view that the final offer is a fair resolution to the protracted negotiations and one Union has already accepted and a clarifying exchange of letters is occurring with the other union.

The Board has discharged its responsibilities responsibly, with a full recognition of the competing and the sometimes difficult to reconcile needs of being a fiscally accountable employer and supporting children`s education.

The Board acknowledges it has been a difficult time for the Island`s parents and carers and apologises for the impact of the disputes in education.

However the Board reiterates that in, its view, there was no need to resort to strike action given that negotiations were ongoing.

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