Tuesday 22 August 2017

ASTI meets for talks as more school strike action is looming

The ASTI was involved in three days of industrial action over the past month, which was suspended to allow for the talks process, with the union setting the end of November as a
deadline. (Stock picture)
The ASTI was involved in three days of industrial action over the past month, which was suspended to allow for the talks process, with the union setting the end of November as a deadline. (Stock picture)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A decision on December's planned strikes by teachers at secondary schools will be discussed at a meeting of ASTI's governing body today.

Prospects for peace in a series of disputes involving secondary teachers hinge on the meeting of union leaders later today.

Yesterday, proposals emerged from talks between ASTI negotiators and Department of Education officials, under the auspices of the Teachers' Conciliation Council (TCC) chair, Anna Perry.

A document, covering both pay issues and junior cycle reform, will be considered by the governing body of the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI), its powerful 23-member Standing Committee.

The attitude of the committee will be key in what happens next, although major decisions on pay have to be referred to the union's 180-member central executive committee.

A meeting of the ASTI central executive committee is already in the diary for January, but the union could call one earlier, if necessary.

Read more: Proposal document aims to avoid more industrial action by secondary teachers

Details of the document have not been published, but in the current climate, with the Government trying to hold the line on pay, there was little or no scope for concessions.

The ASTI was involved in three days of industrial action over the past month, which was suspended to allow for the talks process, with the union setting the end of November as a deadline.

The row between Government and ASTI followed the union's rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA), resulting in one-day strikes and withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties on dates in October and early November.

The strike action forced hundreds of school closures on each of the days and also caused tensions within the ASTI, with some teachers being paid while involved in a withdrawal from supervision and substitution, and others not receiving any pay.

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, December 6 and 7, are pencilled in as further dates for one-day strikes, but, whatever happens today, it seems unlikely that stoppages would go ahead on those days.

The two other teachers unions have accepted the LRA and their members are receiving the benefits in pay and conditions, including restoration of €796 this year for supervision and substitution work and pay rises of up to 22pc, over a 15-month period, for newly qualified teachers.

Meanwhile, the lengthy ASTI opposition to junior cycle reform means that third-year students whose teachers are in the union are at risk of losing 10pc of marks in their English exam this year, because of ASTI non-co-operation with classroom-based assessments.

The other second-level teachers' union, the TUI, has accepted the junior cycle changes.

Pupils of TUI members are already doing the new assessments.

Irish Independent

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