Who signed off the 0% and 1% rises for Northern Irish teachers?

Just spotted this protest against a pay offer of 0% for 2015/16 and 1% for 2016/17 for teachers. Sinn Fein are doing the needful and out on the protests, this time in Crossmaglen:

Two questions arise. Which Education Minister signed up to these cuts? And which Finance Minister signed them off?

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  • anon

    Weir, as far as I am aware. Teachers tell me that the Unions claim that money was made available for a rise of above these levels from Westminster, in line with England, but the Minister decided not to use the money for that purpose. Hence the strikes.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Tory cuts causing harm to teachers and communities all over the North, that’s who you should be targeting.

  • anon
  • mickfealty

    Then O Muilleoir signed off the actual cut?

  • scepticacademic

    the lack of ‘collective responsibility’ in the current institutional arrangements is one of the major flaws in the design; allows this kind of duplicity

  • Mirrorballman

    Does the Finance minister sign off on each cut or just the department budget?

  • Reader

    Well, it was either teachers or DLA recipients take the hit. Weren’t you here a year ago when this was comprehensively discussed?
    [edit] The SF line at the time was that benefits are the absolute highest priority. And now they’re on the picket line. Cheeky.

  • Simian Droog

    Mick your Financial whataboutery is looking pretty desperate to be honest.

  • mickfealty

    In the absence of a comprehensive Programme for Government or an agreed budget, I would have imagined he’d have to go through each proposal line by line?

  • mickfealty

    How? (See this above: https://goo.gl/BKo3Kf)

  • OPB58

    In terms of who signed off these deals it was the finance minister who must authorise all pay deals on an annual basis for teachers and since the payment for 16-17 has already been authorised and is being paid to teachers it was the current finance who agreed the pay deals according to this government document published by the INTO union: http://www.into.ie/NI/Teachers/SalariesandPayScales/TeachersPayScales/2016_TeachersIncrementalPayProgression_Sept2016_DELtr.pdf

    The fault for not having the 2015-16 pay deal in place was the previous education minister and the current minister is responsible for clearing up the backlog on teachers’ salaries based on the funds available from the block grant but in a declining budget.

    The issue is that parity with England & Wales was broken when N.Ireland teachers continued in 15-16 and 16-17 with automatic incremental progression along the pay scale was continued. Funds for 1% increase available over both years was used to pay these increments for some teachers along with a 1% increase for 16-17.

    All teachers moving to their second to seventh year of teacher received an 8% pay increase with incremental progression. Those moving from their eight and ninth years of teaching received an 3.5% pay increase. There are very few if any public sector workers who received such substantial incremental progression as teachers in the first five years of teaching receiving around £2000 increments.

    These strikes and industrial action will have as little effect as those previously carried out a few years ago against the changes to the pension scheme which resulted in teachers being moved off a final salary scheme and on to an average salary scheme as well as paying more NI contributions to shift part of their smaller pensions on to the state pension scheme which is not defined. In addition all teachers now have to work to the National Pension Age which is currently 67 compared to previously getting their pensions at 60. Have teachers learnt anything about the effect of their actions?

  • Katyusha

    Does the Finance Minister even have the authority or mandate to reject a departmental budget for political reasons, if the numbers stack up? Can he reject a line item in the budget because he disagrees with the social or political implications of another department’s actions, or insist that a department shuttle money from one program to another?

    I’d have thought not. Its not his job or remit to instruct other ministers on how to do their jobs or what their policy priorities should be. I’d have thought that would leave him open to the accusation of meddling in other departments’ internal affairs and acting beyond his remit.

  • Katyusha

    Well, it was either teachers or DLA recipients take the hit.

    Not according to the INTO statement linked above, which claims that these cuts were to fund money being shuttled to other Department of Education projects.

    ie. it’s internal within the Ministry of Education. Nothing to do with DLA.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    So a Shinner is only sort of, kind of, to blame then 😉

  • mickfealty

    nope, that’s not what I’m saying. But I think there’s merit at connecting what’s done inside the institutions with what’s said at home in the parish.

  • OPB58

    The finance minister must sign off all pay deals. See this letter from the Dept of Education published by INTO:

    http://www.into.ie/NI/Teachers/SalariesandPayScales/TeachersPayScales/2016_TeachersIncrementalPayProgression_Sept2016_DELtr.pdf

  • OPB58

    Incorrect. N.I. continued to pay automatic increments to teachers when England & Wales stopped and made them performance related. These increments are very expensive at around £2000 per year or an 8% increase. For many large schools the increments and increase in pension and NI contributions for the employer will have amount to a cost increase of around £100,000.

    In addition, the amount to be paid to teachers pensions and NI by the employers has drastically increased in the last few years. Employers are now paying around 16% of every teachers salary and 20% of ancillary staff salaries to the pension funds along with around 15% for NIC. The money for all of that has to come from somewhere.

  • Croiteir

    That would have been a good line before the St Andrews Agreement when the unionists ensured that individual ministries could not work autonomously, smart move from their perspective, But once again our great negotiators threw away their power.

  • Jollyraj

    Certainly a strange to-do if Sinn Fein are organizing protests about decisions made by a Sinn Fein finance minister. One would almost say it shows a certain contempt for those that are doing the protesting.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Agreed, FF could give you a crash course in that.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Thats the point, the SF minister is not making the decision.

  • Croiteir

    SF are the masters – the local reps were all over the Save the Dal in Ballycastle yet the agreed the policy to close it.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Dal?

  • Daragh

    Mick, my brother is a teacher who was striking this week and told me that it is because they find it incredulous that Weir decided not to use the £6m available from Westminster. The chat amongst the teaching fraternity was that they hoped it would cost Weir his seat given that he only got in on the 11th count last time. So nothing to do with Sinn Fein, although interesting to note your excitement on that point 😉

  • file

    Mick, the Teachers’ Unions hold pay talks with the employers side – the Education Authority (for maintained schools) and other bodies, including CCMS. When a deal is agreed, it is sent to the Finance Department for approval so that it can be paid … but the Finance Department does not look at whether or not it is a fair deal. Teachers’ Unions rejected the Employers offer of 1% increase for 2015-16, and then, when it came to the 20116-17 round of pay negotiations, because the Unions had refused the offer of 1% increase, DENI imposed a o% increase for 2015-16 and a 1% increase for 2016-17. Then Peter Weir (insensitively) wrote out to schools telling that he was spending the £5m he did not have to spend on a 1% increase for 20015-16 on various other education projects. So, no ‘cost of living’ increase for 2015-16, but teachers still progressed on the incremental salary scale.

  • mickfealty

    I get that file. But you also cannot pretend you did not sign it off.

  • file

    They do not sign it off … they give the paying authorities permission to start paying. For me ‘signing off’ on something in political circles has a wider meaning that that and implied approval or endorsement, not just legality. Also, it is number-heads in the Finance Department who give the paying authorities permission, not the Minister.

  • mickfealty

    I’m sorry? Finance is suddenly the weakest department in Stormont again is it? No more than a bank clerk at the window? Stuff like this can be escalated to the Office of the Executive.

  • file

    Does not mention the finance minister at all. the Finance Department has a role, certainly, but not the minister.

  • Jollyraj

    Hmm…what is he doing then?

  • file

    It’s not weak – it is just number-crunching. For example, arms-length bodies submit their pay settlement with figures to DENI. DENI number-crunchers number-crunch it to make sure it adds up, then they send it to Department of Finance number-crunchers to number-crunch it again to see if the figures add up again. Then DFP gives permission to DENI to give permission to the arms-length body to pay the pay increase. No policy decisions involved in the process; it is accounting and adding up. The policy part, which the Ministers might be involved in, is at the pay rise negotiation stage, not the rubber-stamping stage. Unless, of course, the pay deal is not agreed, at which point the Minister can make a policy decision to permit the annual increments to be paid pending the resolution of the pay negotiations.

  • Gingray

    Mick, that is the argument YOU made at the time of the executive dole out – that in a 2 party coalition Finance was essentially a rubber stamp department. Interesting turnaround

  • Skibo

    Would that be why there is no budget then?
    Imagine going through each line for each department checking everything is in line with your party political principles.

  • Croiteir

    Dalriada Hospital