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Business chief calls for legal ban on teachers' strike

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Mark Fielding

Mark Fielding

Mark Fielding

TEACHERS planning a nationwide strike on January 22 should be legally barred from taking the action, business leader Mark Fielding has said.

Chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises association (ISME), Mr Fielding made the remarks pointing out that large numbers of workers request days off to stay home from work if their children's schools are closed due to strikes.

Secondary teachers will stage a second national strike later this month, closing 730 schools with 330,000 pupils.

The teachers are campaigning against making teachers assess their own students for some State certification exams.

"The upcoming teachers' strike and the threats of strikes and work to rule by workers in other essential and strategically important bodies once more begs the question why we don't have a 'no-strike' policy for essential services," he said.

"The knock-on effect of teachers' strikes on working parents is felt especially in small and medium businesses when absence, due to child-minding, reduces the workforce, affecting productivity, service and deliveries," he said.

Some of the business consequences of the strike last month were tracked by software firm Elephant Smart Business, Longford, using its live staff management system.

Spike

"We noticed a six-fold spike in day-off requests within 24 hours of the announcement of the pre-Christmas strike, which was really difficult for our supermarket and retail clients that rely on a Christmas sales boost," said Elephant CEO Linda O'Reilly.

"School strike days mean many working parents need the same day off - our Elephant software flags the requests and helps planning but it has an effect on productivity.

"Our larger client hotels and retailers can bring in part timers but our smaller clients, with less than 10 staff, have a real problem," she said

Pat King, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland, said the strike action decision was "a last resort" after all other avenues were exhausted.

Making teachers assess their pupils for the State Junior Cert exam only served to undermine public confidence in the system, he said, adding that teachers are striking to protect the integrity of the exams system.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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