Union officials are warning of “significant disruption” to schools after education bosses were informed on Tuesday of plans by Unite members to stage a 48-hour strike.
The action comes by disgruntled and exasperated members who have been demanding a pay and grading review.
With no sign of movement in their favour, Unite has now informed the Education Authority of its plans for a two-day walkout.
And it says the Department of Education’s “obstructive behaviour” solely responsible for the escalation in members’ industrial action.
The 48-hour strike will begin at 12.01am next Wednesday, November 15.
It marks an escalation of a dispute over the employers’ “failure to deliver a negotiated pay and regrading review” which led to workers commencing a work-to-rule on October 23.
The strike is likely to cause significant disruption to many schools given the concentration of Unite membership in school bus transport, catering, admin, cleaning, classroom assistants and other roles.
The strike follows a ballot of Unite’s membership which returned a 94 per cent majority for industrial action.
Other Education Authority support staff trade unions are coordinating industrial action on November 16 – including Unison, who have a 24-hour strike – and NIPSA, which is conducting targeted strike action.
The strike is the latest development in Unite’s ongoing industrial dispute over the failure to deliver a pay and grading review to education workers as part of a negotiated resolution of the 2022 pay dispute.
Unite has argued that the pay and regrading review is needed to ensure staff retention.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is simply unacceptable that the Department of Education continues to renege on the implementation of a pay and grading review that has been negotiated by the Education Authority with Unite.
“As a matter of urgency, the Education Authority must secure the necessary funding to avoid further escalation of strike action in Northern Ireland’s education sector.”
Unite is also highlighting what the union considers to be the “obstructive behaviour of the Department of Education who have failed so far to seek funding from the Department of Finance for costs to deliver on the negotiated business case prepared by the Education Authority for implementation of the pay and regrading review”.
Unite regional officer Kieran Ellison said: “Responsibility for this escalation in industrial action lies wholly with the obstructive behaviour of senior management at the Department of Education who have failed to act.
“They have brought on this strike by failing to seek funding from the Department for Finance to deliver the pay and grading review.
“Months later and we are still waiting. It is high time that we see a pay and grading review delivered to education workers to tackle the retention issues and bring to an end the strike action.”