Sunday 4 December 2016

Headache for parents as no progress in bid to end school strike

Published 03/11/2016 | 02:30

ASTI teachers on the picket line last month. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
ASTI teachers on the picket line last month. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Talks continue today in the row that is threatening to keep hundreds of second-level schools closed indefinitely from Monday, but there is no sign of a breakthrough.

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As the deadline looms, many schools are advising parents that they may not be in a position to reopen, or may only partially reopen after the mid-term break.

There is particular confusion in some sectors, with some schools unaffected by Monday's action by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), but which will be closed by a one-day ASTI strike on Tuesday.

The dispute has its roots in the union's rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA), which has started the process of restoration of austerity-era pay cuts in the public service. The ASTI is seeking a timetable for an end to two-tier pay scales.

Up to 500 schools could close on Monday if ASTI members withdraw from supervision and substitution duties. The ASTI has told members to present for work, regardless of whether their school is open, closed or partially open - even if there are no students attending.

Poster

As well as withdrawing from supervision and substitution, the ASTI is involved in a series of one-day strikes, the second of which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the ASTI has been told that a union poster about junior-cycle reform - with which the union is not co-operating - cannot be posted in classrooms.

School managers and TDs were among those who objected to the appearance of the poster in classrooms and a spokesperson for Education Minister Richard Bruton said that it was "not appropriate for a trade union to disseminate materials in respect of an industrial relations dispute in a classroom environment".

An ASTI spokesperson said the poster was distributed to members following requests for such information and was aimed at ASTI members.

Irish Independent

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