Monday 19 February 2018

Relief for exam students as ASTI decides against one-day strike

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

THE ASTI is not going ahead with a one-day strike on May 16.

The union’s  annual conference  decided today against backing the move, which was suggested by the ASTI governing body, its 23-member Standing Committee

The decision will come as relief to students and schools in the run up to the State exams .

The vote against supporting a strike proposed by the leadership shows the extent of division within the union in terms of strategy.

The conference also decided against announcing any further strike dates, in a further blow to hardliners.

However, delegates did vote to ballot on industrial action, up to and including strike, in the next  school year, in pursuit of  pay equality.

Delegates at the conference have also voted to refuse to cover for absent teachers from September, which could cause serious disruption to students.

As today’s debate got underway there was significant discontent that another motion,  calling on the union to take an alternative route – a  suspension of  industrial action - was not on the agenda.

The motion was put forward at  a meeting of the Standing Committee  last night, but was rejected by a  vote of 12:9.

One delegate,  Margaret Kent of Fermoy,  said only putting forward motions calling for a stepping up of industrial action, including a strike on May 16,  was not reflective of the mood of all delegates at the conference.

When the conference got underway today there was a move to force a debate of the motion,   which split the hall in two.

Having been rejected by Standing Committee, it would have needed the support  of two-thirds of the delegates to be admitted for debate, but,  in the event,  the vote was  149:145, with three abstentions .

Moves to take a more hardline stance was a response to  concerns  expressed at the conference yesterday that rank and file members wanted clarity on the union strategy .

Industrial action leading to school closures last autumn failed  to deliver the desired results for the union’s pay  campaign. The ASTI has since  has since adopted a strategy of passive resistance, which has led to confusion in school staffrooms.

While the campaign of resistance has continued,  ASTI  members have lost out on  post-austerity improvements to pay and conditions, which are conditional on acceptance of the  Lansdowne Road Agreement .

The ASTI is the only union not to have accepted the Lansdowne Road Pay Agreement (LRA)  and is also involved in  campaign of resistance against  junior cycle reforms.

The motions are being discussed in a private session  of the conference,  which is due to finish at 1pm today

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