Northern Ireland teachers’ unions call for changes to labor laws that continue to discriminate on religious grounds


The executive faces new pressures to address inequalities in the teaching profession by repealing fair employment laws that continue to discriminate on religious grounds.

the legislation currently allows an exemption from equal opportunities and fair participation in employment for members of the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.

This means that it is not illegal to discriminate against someone in a school appointment process on the basis of their religious belief.

A Catholic teacher could therefore legally lose his job in favor of a Protestant teacher and vice versa, depending on the type of school for which he is applying. Likewise, schools may decide to appoint a new teacher based on the church they attend within a denomination or whether they attend mass regularly.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference in Belfast will hear today calls by the teachers’ union NASUWT for an amendment to the Equal Employment and Treatment (NI) Ordinance 1988 to remove the exemption.

Dr Patrick Roach, secretary general of NASUWT, said there was a widely held belief that no teacher should be subject to legislation.

“Discrimination is detrimental to the education of children and to the well-being and careers of teachers,” he said.

“This legislation undermines efforts to combat prejudice, hatred and conflict with the goal of social inclusion which schools should strive to nurture and promote.

“No teacher should be denied the opportunity to teach or run schools on the basis of their religious belief. “

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT’s country manager for Northern Ireland, said the exemption was obsolete and should be removed.

“We call on the Premier and Deputy Prime Minister to do away with this and ensure that every teacher has equal opportunities and can apply for a job at any school, regardless of religion or community background. perceived, ”he said.

“Teachers should no longer have to expect the same employment rights as all other workers.

“Removing the teachers’ exemption is necessary to tackle endemic nepotism and the lack of diversity in the teaching profession. “

Earlier this year, an assembly motion was unanimously supported calling for an end to religious discrimination.

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