“NI simply cannot opt out of taking the difficult measures that apply in every other part of the UK”

Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane isn’t the only Minister facing pay-related problems within her brief, as this UTV report notes. College lecturers have rejected a 2% increase in pay offer from employers at further education institutes. And, interestingly, the Employment and Learning Minister, the UUP’s Sir Reg Empey, agrees with them.. in that “The further education lecturers have won the argument. Pay parity has the support of my department..” But the statement includes an interesting attempt at deflecting criticism from his office.

“As I made clear when this matter was debated in the Assembly last June, we are all persuaded of the arguments in favour of pay parity between FE lecturers and school teachers. However, we are also caught by the restrictions imposed by public sector pay policy. All of us in the Executive acknowledge the inequities that can result from the application of any pay policy but, with reluctance, we have concluded that Northern Ireland simply cannot opt out of taking the difficult measures that apply in every other part of the UK.”

Adds Slugger commenters, so far, appear to disagree with Sir Reg’s assessment of the situation..From the statement’s notes

Notes to Editors:

1. The Minister has met with the College employers and Unions previously and has confirmed his support for the principle of pay parity between school teachers and FE lecturers in Northern Ireland, which is a key union demand.

2. In June, the Assembly debated this issue and unanimously agreed that College Lecturers should have pay parity with teachers. Sir Reg Empey confirmed his Department’s support for this during the debate.

3. Pay parity cannot be offered without breaching the Treasury limits laid down under pay policy. This policy applies to a wide range of public sector employees throughout the UK and was introduced in 2004 to safeguard economic growth through the control of public expenditure.