Tuesday 23 January 2018

Taoiseach insists he is not trying to 'punish' the secondary teachers’ union

Mr Kenny urges teachers to intensify settlement talks

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Justin Farrelly
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Justin Farrelly
John Downing

John Downing

THE Government is trying to “punish” secondary school teachers – but it is really the students who are suffering, the Dáil has been told.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, insisted that special arrangements could have been made to keep Leaving Certificate students at school even though work stoppages went ahead.

He accused the Government and school managers of failing to plan ahead to help examination students, and especially those due to sit the Leaving Cert next June.

Mr Martin also urged the authorities to resist the temptation to punish the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI). He said compromises could be found to fix the various overlapping disputes.

“The issue of substitution and supervision can be dealt – if there’s a will, there’s a way,” the Fianna Fáil leader told the Dáil.

The Taoiseach said all the four disputes involving ASTI could be resolved. He said the other two teacher unions, TUI and INTO, had availed of a scheme to restore pay to new entrants with increases of 15pc to 22pc on offer. He said ASTI members could avail of that.

“I’m disappointed this strike has gone ahead,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Kenny added that the ASTI did not allow principals and vice-principals to hire, vet and train supervisors and substitutes other than teachers.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the strike today – as opposed to the ongoing withdrawal of substitution and supervision – was about restoring newly-recruited teachers’ pay. He said the Government should commit to restoring the principle of equal pay.

Mr Kenny said provision was already made to restore pay to new teachers and the other unions were availing of it.

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