Wednesday 21 February 2018

Secondary schools face strike closure threat in pay row

Contract: Richard Bruton
Contract: Richard Bruton
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Schools across the country could face closures in the coming months after the largest teaching union said it will ballot members on taking strike action.

A first ballot on new teachers' pay will be held in the coming weeks, with results due in October.

A second ballot will ask members to vote on measures applied to Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) members after their rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA).

The two ballots were announced after members of the ASTI's Central Executive Council met last night. Following the meeting, the union said members will be asked to vote on withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties, which relate to the LRA.

ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie said new teachers who entered the profession after 2010 face inferior pay for doing the exact same work as their colleagues.

"Our goal is simple: we want equal pay for equal work. The message from our Central Executive Council is that they are prepared to take strike action on this issue."

The ASTI has been campaigning on this issue for the past number of years. In March, it announced that it would ballot its members on industrial action if the Government failed to restore the common pay scale for all teachers by the end of August.

Members are also refusing to co-operate with the reform of the Junior Cycle.

However, members of the other second-level teachers' union, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), are implementing the changes in their schools.

The Government has so far withheld the first phase of the restoration of payments - worth about €800 - from ASTI members in the wake of their rejection of the LRA on public service pay.

The split is creating a two-tier system, with pupils in TUI schools being taught and assessed in certain subjects under the new methods, while ASTI members have refused to participate in training for the changes, and will not conduct new classroom-based assessments.

From this month, new subject specifications are in place for science and business, along with English, for the new syllabus which was introduced two years ago.

Education Minister Richard Bruton previously said there had been contact between his department and the ASTI but there was no sign of a breakthrough.

Sunday Independent

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