SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said that a failure to award teachers a fair pay rise is driving them out of the North and out of the profession.
He was speaking after it was confirmed that teachers in England would receive a payrise, but those in the North would not.
Funding for the payrise in England is coming from existing Westminster budgets, with no Barnett consequential for a similar increase here.
West Tyrone MLA Mr McCrossan said:
“The announcement that there will be no payrise for teachers here this year is the latest bitter blow for our dedicated staff who have been fighting for years to have their pay and working conditions addressed. Teachers in the North are by far the lowest paid on these islands and this increase will leave them lagging even further behind and highlights the unfairness that exists for staff here.
“It’s hardly a surprise that many teachers in the North are considering moving to the South, Britian or further afield to obtain fair pay for the job they do, while I’m aware of others who are considering leaving the profession all together due to the strain of the job and the lack of a pay increase for nearly three years.
“Demands on our teaching and other educational staff are growing all the time as they try to stop an underfunded education system from falling apart at the seams. I stand fully behind staff who have been forced to take strike action to highlight the pay and working conditions they are expected to put up with in the face of an ever-increasing workload.
“The SDLP were the only party who promised an above inflation pay increase to teachers in our last Assembly manifesto. If we want to provide the best education for our children and young people then we need to invest in our schools and their staff. That’s the message the SDLP Opposition will be carrying into any restored Assembly. We can’t keep ignoring the situation facing staff and being surprised when they walk away from a situation where their wages remain stagnant as the cost of living increases all around them.”