Monday 26 February 2018

Teaching unions sold out their professional autonomy for cash

The Ahern government with the support of the unions de-professionalised the teaching profession

Former Taoisach Bertie Ahern
Former Taoisach Bertie Ahern

Eoin O'Malley

On Thursday many secondary school students got a welcome day off. They might have been able to do something useful instead, like rest. They may have missed the class in which they cover Yeats's poem, September 1913. Most remember the lines about Romantic Ireland being dead and gone. When they get them back the teachers will no doubt tell their charges to interpret the lines, 'But fumble in a greasy till, And add the halfpence to the pence' as the poet's charge against the employers locking out unionised workers, while they were busy counting their profits.

In any industrial dispute, or strike, people normally have an instinctive reaction of which side they're on. Without having to think about the details of the issue, some will wave support to the picketers. Others, like Pavlov's Dogs, will exclaim against them before finding out what the dispute was about.

The ASTI strike last week is a dispute that is more complex and more important than either side realises. It is neither the teachers' nor the Government's fault, but the outcome will have an impact on both the teaching profession and the State's finances. A deal will inevitably be done on 'Croke Park hours' and supervision.

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