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Teachers 'may strike over pay row in August'

STRIKE action by secondary school teachers could begin as early as August if the Government carries out its threat to slash pay.

However, teaching unions have stressed there is no threat of any disruption to the forthcoming Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams as a result of the dispute over the new public sector pay deal.

The Government is on a collision course with secondary teachers, after reiterating its threat to slash their wages after the leaders of two unions refused to support the new public sector pay deal.

The Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) have refused to give their support to the revised payroll plan.

They say it does not go far enough from initial proposals following negotiations on a successor to the Croke Park deal.

The two teaching unions issued a joint statement reaffirming their rejection of the proposals. Both ASTI and TUI members already voted in favour of industrial action.

SAVINGS

The Government is seeking to implement savings on a public service bill from July. Legislation will be introduced in the Dail next week to give effect to public sector pay cuts for those who have not signed up to the revised pay arrangements.

If it goes ahead with threatened pay cuts, it will trigger the teaching unions' mandates for industrial action.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said he did not "honestly know" when teachers' pay packets will be cut after the legislation will be passed.

He also said that he hoped there would be no disruption in the system as Junior and Leaving Cert students prepare for their exams.

Pat King, general secretary of the ASTI, confirmed the State exams will not be affected.

Meanwhile, he told the Herald: "If the Government cuts the pay of teachers unilaterally, we have to respond.

"We have already had our ballot which allows us to respond. We haven't decided on the specific form of industrial action."

It had been believed that any industrial action was unlikely to kick in until the new school year in September.

However, there is the possibility that there could be a form of industrial action in August, if pay cuts are unilaterally implemented, according to Mr King.

fdillon@herald.ie


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