THE closure of about two-thirds of post-primary schools is on the cards from mid-January if teachers reject the Haddington Road pay and productivity deal again.
The Government has set January 17 as the date from which it will stop paying members of the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI) for supervision and substitution duties.
If that happens, the teachers involved are likely to refuse to do the work, which would force the closure of 70pc of post-primary schools where the ASTI has members because of concerns about health and safety.
Supervision and substitution work involves providing cover for teachers who are absent, or supervising at lunchtime.
The January 17 deadline was agreed at today’s Cabinet meeting and is another indication of the hard line the Government will take if ASTI members vote ‘no’ for a third time in a ballot starting this week.
It has powers under the new Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act (FEMPI) and other legislation to make supervision and substitution a compulsory, unpaid duty for ASTI members.
The Government is piling on the pressure as the 17,000 union members receive their ballot papers at home – along with a recommendation from their union executive to reject the deal again.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has already confirmed that about 48 teachers in 29 schools could also lose their jobs next year if the ASTI does not accept the deal this time.
Ballot papers have to be returned by December 18, with the outcome to be delivered just as schools are closing for the Christmas holidays.
Katherine Donnelly Education Editor