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ASTI leaders under pressure to consider new ballot of members in their long-running rows over pay and junior cycle reform

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ASTI President Ed Byrne

ASTI President Ed Byrne

ASTI President Ed Byrne

ASTI leaders meeting Saturday (April 1) may consider a new ballot of members in their long-running rows over pay and junior cycle reform.

Losses to the union’s members are mounting even as the meeting gets underway, with ASTI teachers excluded from the €1,000 a year being restored to salaries of other public servants from today.

ASTI teachers are suffering losses in pay and conditions, to varying degrees, as a result of their rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA). 

Separately, the union is refusing to co-operate with junior cycle reforms.

Young teachers in the ASTI are the worst affected by the losses, and from Saturday (April 1) are up to €220 a month behind their counterparts in other unions, a gap that will continue to widen for as long as they are outside the LRA.

Pay is not the only issue and much of the pressure on the union is coming from recently qualified entrants  who continue to have to wait four years for a permanent contract, rather than the two years agreed under LRA .

The 180-member executive of the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) is meeting Saturday to review matters since a ballot in January, when members rejected combined proposals to settle the disputes on pay and junior cycle reform.

The narrow, 52.5-47-5pc split, showed the extent of division in the union, and the intervening weeks has seen growing discontent in some quarters.

Another issue coming to the fore is the question of possible redundancies of some ASTI members  if they are deemed surplus to requirements in their school next September.

Without the protection of the LRA, ASTI members cannot avail of the redeployment scheme that allows for the transfer of a teacher to fill a vacancy in another school in such circumstances.

One strategy being discussed ahead of today’s meeting is the possibility of balloting members again - but with separate votes on the LRA  and junior cycle reform.

While the ASTI maintained separate campaigns on the two issues , the Department of Education deliberately tied them together in negotiations leading up to the January ballot and said it would only accept a single answer.

A spokesperson for the minister confirmed  that that remained the minister’s position: “There is no agreed or feasible option to split or separate out elements of the offer available”.

However, even if such an idea is formally tabled at the meeting, there are other influential elements within the AST leadership who are in no mood to conduct any further ballot on the current proposals.

Motions for discussion do not have to be tabled in advance, and will be accepted up until a late stage in the course of the meeting .

Online Editors