SDLP Oldpark candidate Charlotte Carson has said that teachers deeply regret having to take strike action on Wednesday.
Ms Carson, who is a teacher in the north Belfast area, said that teachers wanted to get on with their jobs, but felt they had been left with no other option in their fight for fair pay and working conditions.
Five teaching unions will strike on Wednesday, with the National Association of Head Teachers striking for the first time in their history in relation to pay.
Ms Carson said:
“I don’t know a single teacher who wouldn’t prefer to spend tomorrow in their classroom educating their pupils, but after years of fighting for fair pay and working conditions our concerns are still being ignored and we have been left with no other choice but to take to the picket line.
“We are not asking for the earth, we have seen a massive decrease in real terms pay over the last decade and this is particularly galling when you consider that teachers here are paid considerably less than in Britain and the South. The current situation is putting people off entering the profession and unless we address it we will struggle to recruit the numbers necessary in future to maintain our education system which is already under severe pressure.
“It’s deeply regrettable that schools will have to close tomorrow and our young people will miss a day of education. The blame for this disruption lies with employers and the Department of Education who have repeatedly failed to recognise the contribution that teachers make. That all five teaching unions stand together on this shows the strength of feeling on this issue, staff across our education system are united and I would urge fresh negotiations to begin with unions to acknowledge the difficult situation many teachers are facing, and to reach a fair pay agreement so that we can get back into our classrooms and get on with our jobs.”