Members in the Northern Ireland section of the Irish teachers union INTO are awaiting the results of a ballot on industrial action, due to be announced tomorrow. 

Provoked by the education minister's statement at their conference last week that 'no amount of placard waving would stop the austerity agenda', the union issued a statement: 'Perhaps it would have been appropriate for the Minister not to look at the posters but to look at the faces of those carrying them. Let's get real. (He) initially proposed cuts of £162.5million to the education budget. That would manifest in the loss of approximately 3,000 jobs that would not be replaced.' The statement went on: 'Our members have listened and they have agreed that no one in Stormont (the Northern Ireland government) values teachers, no one puts any value in the education system other than to produce statistics and no one cares about the future of the children of today or the economy they will emerge into. INTO cannot let this scenario play out.'

Northern Ireland's overall budget is allocated by the United Kingdom government, which is pursuing a policy of deep cuts in order to 'balance the books.' All over England, Wales and Northern Ireland, schools are suffering, teachers are losing their jobs and schools are closing, while in England in particular, the privatisation of education is proceeding apace.

Teachers in all three places are fighting back, with Northern Ireland in the vanguard with tomorrow's ballot.