One the eve of a ballot that could see teachers across Mid Ulster take industrial action on Education cuts, a Cookstown teacher has blasted the Minister for his ‘disrespect’ towards ‘placard waving’ teachers.
While not wanting the outcome to affect schoolchildren, Holy Trinity PS teacher Mary Dorman, said she feels industrial action is the only way to get the message across that incoming cuts are unacceptable.
Now in the job for 30 years, the veteran teacher explained how increasing workloads, dwindling resources, more pressure, less pay, uncertainty and cuts that could cost jobs and increase class sizes, have her worried.
“We have been hammered,” she told the Mail.
Hoping for a “strong mandate that will give us a chance to take industrial action” she said: “Unlike potholes we can’t wait until next year.”
Seriously concerned about the impact these cuts will have on the children she teaches, Mrs Dorman, a member of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation that represents nearly 3,000 education workers across Mid Ulster said “something is going to give”.
“These children only get one chance at an education - we can’t pick it up again in ten years,” she explained.
“Uncertainty is fuelling speculation... and it is making it so difficult for everybody.
“It makes me wonder how I am going to work until I am 67.”
When asked where the money should come from to plug the gaps in government budgets, Mrs Dorman said perhaps they should be going after big corporations that hide their profits in off-shore accounts - and don’t pay any tax here.
Members of Ireland’s largest teacher’s union will find out on Thursday if enough votes have been cast to take industrial action over Northern Ireland’s ‘dysfunctional’ education system.
At the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation annual conference last week, Education Minister John O’Dowd told members no amount of placard waving would stop the austerity agenda.
Hitting back, Gerry Murphy, the union’s Northern Secretary, said: “Perhaps it would have been appropriate for the Minster not to look at the posters - but to look at the faces of those carrying them.
“Let’s get real. The Education Minister initially proposed cuts of £162.5m to the education budget.
“That would manifest in the loss of approximately 2,500-3,000 jobs at the very least - 3,000 jobs that would not be replaced.”
The results of the ballot will be announced on Thursday [March 5, 2015].