The leaders of two unions have warned that this week’s teachers’ strikes may only be the beginning, as other public sector workers seek better pay and conditions.

Debbie Halsall, regional officer at Unite the Union, and Mick Hewer, negotiations officer at Prospect, were speaking as they voiced their support for striking teachers.

Earlier this month, after negotiations with both Prospect and Unite under the collective bargaining arrangement, the Public Services Commission (PSC) agreed to implement a 6% pay award for April that applied to all grades of staff who are employed by the PSC.

However, speaking at the NASUWT picket line this week, Mick Hewer said the action taken by teachers, in going out on strike, bore similarities to issues his union’s members were facing.

He said: ‘We’re in tough, tough, times and employers don’t seem to be listening to us when it comes to negotiating and maintaining terms and conditions and restoring pay differentials that have been eroded over a period of time because of the effects of inflation.

‘It is something that they need to get a grip of sooner rather than later or I think there will be more of this type of action to come.’

He added: ‘I honestly don’t know where we will start pay talks for next year, because our members have told us in no uncertain terms that they are unhappy with the settlements reached, but they felt it was the best that could be achieved through negotiation at that time.

‘They’re telling us that they’re not prepared to step back and accept offers that are below inflation next year.’

Debbie Halsall said Unite had also been balloting members across the island and warned that if the government didn’t take heed of their members, the strikes could be a ‘common occurrence’.

The two unions represent workers from across the island in a variety of roles, professions and trades.

Mrs Halsall said: ‘This isn’t about the short-term, this is about the long-term future. This is about your teachers, your key workers, if they can’t attract people to the island, if they can’t retain their staff, they have got issues. Education is at the top, health is at the top and all your essential services that you keep seeing. As I said very publicly after the pandemic, everybody was standing on a doorstep clapping, they’re now slapping.

Treasury needs to take heed, the departments need to take heed, that this will be the norm if they do not get their act together.’