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Saturday 23 September 2017

Four things you need to know before the teacher strikes tomorrow

Schools look set to close Monday
Schools look set to close Monday
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Schools across the country are preparing to close tomorrow as secondary teachers prepare for a one-day strike.

Talks are taking place today between leaders of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and senior officials in the Department of Education, but there is little hope the work stoppage will be averted.

As over 500 schools are expected to close, here's everything you need to know:

1. What will ASTI members do?

About 500 schools are in the process of telling parents that they cannot open because of the stoppage by members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI).

The one-day strike is due to take place tomorrow, Thursday October 27, with up to 250,000 teenagers unable to go to school.

Schools will reopen for the day on Friday, and then close for the week-long Halloween break - and the main concern now is what will happen after that.

2. What will happen if talks aren't resolved?

School management bodies believe about 500 schools - of 730 nationwide - will not be able to re-open on Monday, November 7, if the ASTI dispute is not resolved.

ASTI members have threatened to withdraw from supervision and substitution work, forcing most schools to close because of lack of cover.

The Department of Education is meeting school management bodies today to discuss contingency plans, but accepts that widespread schools closures are inevitable.

3. What is the contingency plan?

The contingency plan - involving the recruitment of external supervisors - seemed to be doomed from the beginning.

This is because the ASTI would not allow its principal members to help with the process and did not give sufficient time for schools to recruit, train and vet external supervisors.

Even if schools were in a position to recruit, it would take until the end of November to complete the process.

4. Why are they striking?

The ASTI is alone among public service unions in rejecting the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA), which began the process of restoring austerity-era cuts, which is at the root of its campaign of industrial action.

The union is demanding a Government commitment on pay equalisation for newly-qualified teachers, and is objecting to having pay restoration measures, such as payment for supervision and substitution duties, linked to LRA acceptance.

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