SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has expressed solidarity with staff from Further Education Colleges as they undertake a week of strike action.
Said the Foyle MLA: “I would like to extend my full solidarity to those staff in our further education colleges who have been forced to take industrial action to advocate for a fair wage and proper terms and conditions.
“Our further education sector is at the heart of skills development and economic productivity.
“It is unforgiveable that our staff in this crucial sector are not properly remunerated or respected for their work.
“It is particularly shameful that FE lecturers in NI earn thousands of pounds less than their counterparts across the water in Britain and it is deeply regrettable that this has forced workers to take this stand.
“Of course we will all sympathise with the many students who may be impacted by this action, particularly as they begin the first week of their courses in colleges across the North.
“However, I also know that students will also feel strongly that their educators should be paid fairly.
“We cannot forget that the working conditions of staff directly impact the learning conditions of students.’
“I have previously written to the Department for the Economy on these issues and made clear my opposition to cuts to our further education sector in our Party’s response to the budget earlier this year.
“It is imperative that all staff feel respected and valued in their work and that this respect is reflected in proper wages.
“We must ensure that our education system is sustainable in the longer-term, particularly for those members of staff entering the teaching profession in our colleges.
“The SDLP will continue to stand with striking staff until they are afforded the economic justice that they deserve.”