Teaching becoming a 'halting site in between better jobs'
UNEMPLOYED architects and lawyers, as well as retired teachers, are taking substitute work from young, jobless graduates, the ASTI conference was told yesterday.
Greta Harrison of the West Mayo branch said that teaching was "a bad job in the good times and a good job in bad times".
She said it was galling to see unemployed professionals who did not choose teaching suddenly looking towards it and getting hours while young people who had trained as teachers were sitting on their hands.
Ms Harrison said that principals should not be giving hours on the basis of convenience but should give preference to newly qualified teachers.
"Teaching should not be a halting site for people in between better jobs," she added.
The convention was told that about a quarter of secondary school teachers did not have permanent contracts and there was strong criticism of retired members taking hours.
John Molloy from Galway said retired teachers who were taking the hours of temporary teachers were not welcome in the staffroom.
"We had our day, give them every minute they can get," Mr Molloy said.
Tipperary delegate Mary Lysaght made an impassioned plea to retirees not to take work that could be taken by young and part-time teachers.
"You served Ireland extremely well. You've made your contribution. We have so many young teachers out there who have no living of any kind," she said.
The final day of the convention also condemned various forms of discrimination against people in education.
Carmel Heneghan, Tuam branch, said some teachers were being discriminated against on age grounds.
"The key question is why is age an issue?" she asked.
There was a culture of fear among senior teachers who feel they are being pushed out while new entrants face great insecurity.
They have to work very hard to get permanent jobs, but now have very little hope of promotion because of the moratorium in filling middle-management positions.
Tony McKernan of Limerick South said that sections of the Employment Equality Act which allow schools to openly discriminate against lesbian, gay and bisexual teachers, should be removed and, "consigned to the dustbin".
Schools must have clear policies recognising the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual teachers and students, he said, urging teachers to be vigilant.
Suicide is a very real risk for these students, he added.
Galway city delegate Maura Greaney pointed out the male dominance at the conference top table.
"Sixty-eight percent of ASTI membership is female but for the last three years the candidates for the ASTI presidency have been all male. It is vitally important that women pursue key decision-making positions," she said.