Monday 29 May 2017

ASTI members 'leaving for TUI' amid fears over jobs as Junior Cert dispute drags on

Jennifer Hiney and Carmel Bilginer of Coláiste Muire, Cobh, at the ASTI conference. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney
Jennifer Hiney and Carmel Bilginer of Coláiste Muire, Cobh, at the ASTI conference. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Controversy erupted over claims that teachers were jumping ship from a union opposed to Junior Cert reform over fears for their jobs.

The Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) called for "concrete proof" that some of its members were leaving to join a rival union.

It warned that it would amount to a breach of the rules if members had left and joined the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) amid the Junior Cert stand-off with the Department of Education.

The ASTI has vehemently opposed the new teacher assessment element of the reformed Junior Cert, whereas the TUI last year agreed to begin training for its implementation.

One ASTI member, Geraldine O'Brien, told the union's Cork conference that she knew a member who had job concerns and decided to join the TUI.

Ms O'Brien claimed the teacher felt, given the Junior Cert stand-off, that her job status would be better protected by changing unions.

"The pressure. The intimidation. The bullying - both overt and covert - is unreal," she said.

Under ICTU rules, any union which accepts members from another union involved in a dispute would be in breach of agreed guidelines.

"We are completely unaware of this situation and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on it," the TUI said.

The ASTI has now threatened further industrial action from September.

Around 160 Irish secondary schools have teaching staff made up of both ASTI and TUI members.

ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie urged ASTI members to offer concrete proof of anyone who had left to join the TUI over the Junior Cert row.

"That would be in breach of ICTU rules in relation to dispute regulations," he said.

"We do not think the TUI would accept members (in these circumstances).

"We have every assurance that they are not doing that," he added.

Irish Independent

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