Q&A by Paul Melia
Q What's happening with the ASTI?
A The union, which has members in 70pc of second-level schools, has mounted industrial action since the beginning of October after members rejected the Haddington Road Agreement on pay and productivity in the public sector. That resulted in some school closures because parent-teacher meetings had to be scheduled during class time.
Q So what's new?
A The ASTI executive met at the weekend to discuss revised proposals from the Government aimed at breaking the strike. The executive will put the deal to members, but has recommended rejection.
Q What does that mean?
A It means that if the deal is rejected, parents and pupils can expect more disruption from early in the new year. Among the possible effects are more school closures, a refusal by teachers to engage in training for the new Junior Certificate syllabus and failure to attend school planning meetings. The Government could also use the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation to change employment conditions, including cuts in allowances, without agreement. That could result in an all-out strike.
Q What does the revised deal include?
A Agreement to establish a working group to review how the additional 33 teaching hours agreed under the previous Croke Park Agreement are being utilised. An expert group will also be formed to look at the employment conditions of part-time teachers and those on fixed-term contracts. Teachers can also opt out of substitution and supervision, with a resulting fall in pay of up to €1,769. About 30pc of members would have this option, but it would remain compulsory for the others, which has caused some anger.
Q What's the position with the other teaching unions?
A Both the TUI and INTO have signed up to Haddington Road. This poses a dilemma for the Government because it cannot be seen to allow one group to avoid the terms of Haddington Road, when all other unions are signed up.