Thursday 21 September 2017

Now ASTI is facing a strike threat from its own staff

'That vote follows a refusal by the secondary teachers' union to attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to discuss strains in relations between staff and elected officers' (stock photo)
'That vote follows a refusal by the secondary teachers' union to attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to discuss strains in relations between staff and elected officers' (stock photo)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) leaders are facing a new headache after their own staff voted unanimously to take industrial action, up to and including strike, in an internal row.

That vote follows a refusal by the secondary teachers' union to attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to discuss strains in relations between staff and elected officers.

The staff referred the case to the WRC in late 2015, and a hearing was eventually scheduled for March, but the ASTI pulled out at short notice.

No decision has yet been made by representatives of the 20-plus staff, members of Siptu and the NUJ, on when or what form such action should take.

It is another embarrassing row for the embattled ASTI leadership, which is also dealing with a grassroots revolt over the union's dispute strategy.

The union is being forced to call a special convention to consider suspension of industrial action on foot of a petition signed by more than 1,300 members.

No date has yet been set for the convention, but, under ASTI rules, it has to take place within six weeks. The matter is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the ASTI 180-member executive committee today.

Ironically, as ASTI staff voted to strike, the union's 23-member Governing Body, its Standing Committee, called off a ballot on industrial action, due to take place next week, over a possible threat of redundancy.

That came after the Department of Education confirmed yesterday that no teacher would be facing redundancy this year.

The ballot plan was directly linked to the possibility that ASTI members could face redundancy if they were deemed surplus to requirements in their school.

Teachers are protected against redundancy through a redeployment scheme, but ASTI members have lost access to that because of their rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) on pay and productivity.

About 60 schools where there the ASTI represents teachers advised that they were facing a potential surplus in September, which raised union concerns and prompted the decision to conduct a ballot.

However, rising enrolments and the addition of several hundred posts in schools in September have absorbed any potential surplus.

Irish Independent

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