Saturday 19 August 2017

ASTI members vote to suspend all industrial action

ASTI president Ed Byrne. Photo: Arthur Carron
ASTI president Ed Byrne. Photo: Arthur Carron
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The secondary teachers' union, ASTI has voted 2-1 to suspend all industrial action against the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) and junior cycle reforms

The 240-121 vote, with four abstentions, was taken at a special delegate convention, which was held in private.

It means that ASTI members will now receive the pay and other benefits of the LRA, including earlier access to permanent jobs for new entrant teachers.

It is unusual for concessions to be awarded in return for a suspension of industrial action, but the Department of Education is keen to resolve the two long-running battles. However, gains to members will only continue if the action is ultimately ended.

The ASTI convention was described as "hot and heavy" and the vote to suspend action only came after the defeat of other moves aimed at continuing the battle in some form.

Four amendments to the main motion to suspend action were pushed by the hardline elements in the union, but all were lost after lengthy debates.

The special convention was demanded by a petition of about 1,600 ASTI members who were concerned about heavy losses members were suffering because of the continued opposition to the LRA, two years after it was negotiated.

Other public service unions accepted the LRA and their focus moved to its successor, negotiations on which concluded this week.

About 1,500 members vented their frustration over the union’s strategy by resigning their membership this year.

After the convention, ASTI president Ed Byrne said the decision was made in the light of the fact that ASTI members have been suffering from punitive measures undertaken by the Government in opposition to the union’s stance against pay inequality.

"This suspension of industrial action will allow members to be treated on the same basis as their colleagues in the other teachers unions. It will also allow them to take stock and give them space to consider the proposals which have emerged from the recently concluded Public Service Pay Talks.

"The ASTI will immediately contact the Department of Education and Skills in order to ensure that the restorations in pay and conditions promised in the event of a suspension of industrial action will be delivered promptly and in full."

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