Jersey government minister accused of breaching human rights law in teachers' pay dispute

Teachers have been in a long-running dispute with Jersey's government over pay and conditions. Credit: ITV Channel

Jersey's Treasury Minister has been accused of breaching human rights law after she controversially wrote directly to teachers in a bid to end their long-running dispute over pay.

The four-page confidential letter obtained by ITV News last month stated that teachers would automatically be given the Government's latest offer and then banned from taking part in any industrial action relating to pay until 2027, unless they opted out by midday on Thursday 1 February.

Shortly after ITV News shared the letter, one Jersey politician called the approach "nasty and cowardly".

In a social media post, Deputy Rob Ward added: "A disgraceful approach to industrial relations. Straight out of the anti-Union playbook. Destroys principle of secret ballot. I call on the vice chair SEB (States Employment Board) to withdraw this letter immediately."

The National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have also both requested the letter be rescinded.

In a letter dated 30 January and addressed to Deputy Millar, the NEU went further.

It called her approach a breach of Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the freedom to join trade unions and take part in peaceful protests.

The NEU added: "We do not accept the letter is lawful.

"We do not accept you can threaten to end the rights of our members to take industrial action while the dispute between the NEU and the States of Jersey continues.

"We further consider that your proposals would involve unlawful processing of our member's special category data that would deny their entitlement to confidentiality as regards their trade union membership."

  • Caryn Symoms, Senior Regional Officer at the NEU, explains their next steps in the pay dispute

The NEU however says it is still willing to negotiate with Jersey's new government and has called for urgent talks to "re-establish good industrial relations".

Caryn Symoms, Senior Regional Officer at the NEU, added: "The change in the political environment is positive.

"We have presented a new pay offer which we think is reasonable and we are hopeful that we will be able to get back round the table as soon as possible and further those negotiations."

ITV News understands Jersey's Chief Minister, Deputy Lyndon Farnham, is now leading on the issue.

In response, he said: "There is a genuine desire by this Government to resolve the current teachers’ pay dispute and reset the workplace relationship so that we can move forward."