§ Mr. Gardiner
Industrial action short of a strike commenced on 5 January by four of the five teachers' unions. At that stage Employing Authorities issued advice to schools in relation to issues likely to arise from such industrial action.
To date the teachers' unions have stopped short of strike action. Consequently the Employing Authorities have not issued advice in this regard. Should the teachers' unions give notification of their intention to commence a campaign of strike action, the Employing Authorities will, in advance of this, issue appropriate guidance to their schools.
§ Mr. Gardiner
I recently held separate meetings with the employers and union representatives. At these meetings I made it clear to both sides that the Department has the money in its budget at present to enable backdating to September 2003, providing early agreement is reached to an SDPM Scheme. This is in line with the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry 947W on teachers' pay and would give the 12,500 teachers who are already on the first point of the Upper Pay Scale an extra £1,062 each a year. I also stressed that movement on the Upper Pay Scale has to be accompanied by a performance management scheme, as has been the case in England and Wales since 2000. I also made it quite clear that the money is not available for backdating beyond the Inquiry's recommendations.
The teacher unions and the employers have been in talks with the Labour Relations Agency, and they are keen to reach an early and realistic resolution. At the most recent LRA meeting the teachers' unions agreed to work together with Management Side to consider and agree a School Development and Performance Management Scheme which is acceptable to both sides.