Teachers' union must learn the hard lessons
Lessons and tests go hand-in-hand in education, but the determination by teachers' union ASTI to back industrial action - and thus test the Government's resolve to hold the line on public pay - could have some very hard lessons for all concerned.
Budgetary constraints mean that there is no room for manoeuvre. Should the ASTI break the line, other public servants including the gardaí who are also mulling over strike action will follow, and the public pay-bill will become unsustainable. There are some 300,000 public servants on the State payroll so breaching limits in an arbitrary manner would be anarchic.
An indication of the gulf between the sides is that the Government insists that the Lansdowne Road Agreement is the cornerstone of its industrial strategy, where the ASTI has dismissed it as "a piece of paper". Teachers are charged with preparing students for the real world and there seems to be a deficit in the ASTI's perception of reality in terms of what is affordable or reasonable. Teachers are also good at sums and a cursory glance at the Budget this week would have informed them that the Government has allocated €290m for pay restoration for public-service staff promised under the Lansdowne Road deal already.