Saturday 24 March 2018

Teachers are urged to call off action as 'pupils will lose out'

Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe meets pupils from Regina Mundi College, Douglas Road, Cork during the official opening of new science laboratories at the school yesterday
Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe meets pupils from Regina Mundi College, Douglas Road, Cork during the official opening of new science laboratories at the school yesterday

Katherine Donnelly, Eilish O Regan and Paul Melia

PARENTS are urging teachers to call off industrial action that will cause pupils to lose out on tuition time.

The appeal comes as the public braces itself for the impact of the work-to-rule by public servants in schools, health services and local authorities over pay cuts. The effects include lost tuition time in schools, a refusal by nurses to provide cover for colleagues on leave and local authority customers phone calls going unanswered.

Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey is prepared to intervene in the dispute after warning of pending gridlock in public services.

Teachers will refuse to meet parents or to attend staff meetings outside school hours -- forcing classes to be cut. They are also refusing to take on additional duties where promoted posts have been suppressed, or to attend training courses if there is no substitute cover.

The National Parents Council Primary said when tuition time was lost, all children were affected.

The council said teachers should reverse any current work-to-rule decisions that would affect children's contact time with their teacher.

National Parents Council Post-Primary spokesperson Rose Tully said the teachers' action could sour relations in schools.

But the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO0 defended their position and said the union had done its utmost to minimise disruption.


INTO incoming general secretary Sheila Nunan said the damage that government cutbacks "were causing to an already under-funded and under-resourced education system should be acknowledged".

Irish Vocational Education Association general secretary Michael Moriarty, representing Ireland's 33 Vocational Education Committees, said the delivery of some services would be threatened in the near future unless there was intervention and dialogue.

The presidents and general secretaries of INTO, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, the Teachers Union of Ireland and the Irish Federation of University Teachers met yesterday to consider their directives. A spokesperson said the campaign would be kept under review, with a view to increasing the intensity of industrial action.

A spokesman for the HSE said last night that the first day of action did not lead to any risk to patient safety.

She said some problems arose in relation to administrative staff not answering phones on behalf of colleagues. Difficulties also emerged in relation to the collect of information and data but these were dealt with at a local level.

Staff are refusing to provide "cover" for colleagues who were on leave or unreplaced due to the moratorium on recruitment.

IMPACT's Kevin Callinan said the action would be felt most in areas which were already under-staffed. Staff who were taking work home in order to clear backlogs would no longer do so, he said.

Health staff will only do their contracted hours and it is expected that if the action drags on, medical-card applications could experience delays.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation instructed members to refuse to engage in goodwill working beyond their normal finishing times. The Psychiatric Nurses Association is to meet next week to decide if it will join in the action. Doctors are not involved in the protest.

IMPACT has told its members in local authorities only to carry out their own duties, and not to do work on a voluntary basis or to work overtime.

Public counters could close, processing of applications for waivers for refuse charges could be delayed and staff may refuse to answer phones.

One council said that it had agreements with unions on the minimum number of people required to open certain buildings, such as libraries. If a staff member called in sick, it could result in closures.

Irish Independent

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