Teachers ready to strike over pay cuts

Claire Murphy

TEACHERS are not afraid to take to the picket line to protect their pay and allowances.

In a stark warning to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, two unions yesterday said industrial action was now a possibility.

ASTI president Brendan Broderick said secondary teachers were making do with a lot less and new teachers have been punished the most.

"If the media speculation on allowances is proven to be correct, we will be balloting our members on withdrawal from the public service agreement, and those who broke the agreement can take full responsibility for the consequences," Mr Broderick said.

"Public sector workers are tied into a pay freeze, even though inflation now somewhere between 2 and 3pc continues to undermine living standards."

Mr Broderick also noted that proposals to grade the Junior Cert internally would undermine the credibility of the exam systems in schools.

He said exams need to be objective and schools could face "legal accountability" if students were graded by their own teachers.


"Teachers are concerned that any move that places them in the role of judge rather than advocate of their students, will undermine the professional relationship that currently exists between teachers, students and their parents," he said.

"Pressure from parents directly or indirectly through school management or pressure emanating from competition between local schools for students could lead to the distortion of results.

"The only way to guarantee this is by ensuring that all State exams are externally set, externally invigilated and externally marked.

"Teachers and other front line public servants did not share in the champagne lifestyle of the Celtic Tiger nor are we, in any way responsible for the economic downturn and turmoil in financial circles," he said.

"Those who promote the neo-liberal agenda view public sector workers as deadwood, and are never short of ideas where further cuts can be made."

The issue of cyber bullying -- which hit the headlines last weekend -- is a growing concern for teachers, he added.

Today, teachers vote on whether the issue of the Croke Park agreement should become null and void if broken by the Government.

They will also discuss the inequity faced by new teachers who enter the profession from January 2011.