All parties involved had a taste of imminent havoc
Published 09/11/2016 | 02:30
In industrial relations disputes, timing is everything. There had already been three days of action by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), and it was getting messier, for everyone.
The ASTI withdrawal from supervision and substitution left hundreds of schools at risk of indefinite closure, causing disruption and uncertainty for 250,000 students and their parents.
School managers were at their wits' end and increasingly looking at options for partial opening for exam classes. But that brings its own problems, such as how to limit entry to school to particular pupils.
It also created an unusual problem for ASTI members: teachers in schools forced to close were off the payroll, but teachers in schools that managed to stay open were being paid.
ASTI members themselves were putting pressure on schools to find ways to open to ensure they would get paid. No doubt, their concerns about the prospect of being off the payroll for a protracted period, and the pay divide it was causing, filtered through to the union leadership.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was under fire from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Everyone involved had a taste of the havoc to be wreaked if the dispute was allowed to drag on.
ASTI leaders expressed a willingness for an intervention. They were ready for the invitation from Anna Perry, director of conciliation at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), and chair of the Teachers' Conciliation Council, the WRC equivalent for teachers.