Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images
SECONDARY SCHOOLS ACROSS the country face closures as ASTI teachers have voted for possible strikes.
The group voted by a large majority (80%) in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike days.
They are fighting for recently qualified teachers to be paid in line with their colleagues, as well as looking for better terms and conditions across the board for all members.
The move could see more than half of Ireland’s secondary schools close for at least a day.
“Today’s ballot results demonstrate the depth of feeling amongst second-level teachers who have endured years of pay cuts and deteriorating terms and conditions,” ASTI president Ed Byrne said.
Teachers do not embark on industrial action lightly and strike action is always a very last resort.
Byrne added that new and recently qualified teachers are “not only faced with years of casual short-term contracts, but an inferior rate of pay for doing the exact same work as their colleagues”
“An ASTI teacher starting in 2016 is being paid 20% below the 2010 starting salary,” he continued.
Today’s ballot result demonstrates the sense of injustice amongst teachers at this treatment of new and recently qualified colleagues. It shows that teachers at all stages of their careers are prepared to act in a collegiate spirit and stand up for the most vulnerable teachers in their schools.
Principals have said they believe the issue will be resolved before any schools have to shut their doors to pupils.
A statement from the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals says:
The primary interest of the NAPD is to look after the best interest of all our members, teachers and students. We need to ensure that a positive atmosphere is maintained within our staff rooms and schools at all times.
We are confident that this issue will be resolved and we are asking that all efforts are made to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion without delay.
Separately, the union’s members have also voted to withdraw from unpaid supervision and substitution hours.
ASTI teachers voted against the Lansdowne Road Agreement in 2015 and withdrew from what were known as Croke Park Hours.
In response, the Department of Education withheld pay for supervision and substitution work.