The picket line outside Pobalscoil Neasain Balydoyle during the recent teachers' strike

More strike fears as secondary teachers reject "final offer" pay deal

Industrial action led to the closure of over 500 schools in November.

Updated 7.31 pm

TEACHERS WITH THE ASTI have voted to rejected pay proposals the government had described as its “final offer”, increasing the chances of industrial action.

The union says its members voted by 52.5% to 47.5% to reject the proposals from the Department of Education and Skills.

The union had recommended to its 18,000 members to reject the offer proposed by the government.

The union had been locked in talks with the government in an attempt to secure a better pay deal for the secondary teachers.

Industrial action was suspended in November after new proposals were made to the ASTI by the government.

The deal that was offered was published on the ASTI website and showed that there had been a slight compromise on the supervision and substitution dispute – which says that teachers who have been working for over 15 years can opt out of that duty.

This centred around duties, such as supervision of students during lunch breaks, which was to be done without pay for a specific length of time, but no pay was offered to teachers after that period ended.

Teachers of the ASTI then withdrew from this activity as they see it as separate from their role as an educator.

Other changes from the current Lansdowne Road pay deal include a compromise on Junior Cert reform, but largely, the deal remains the same before teachers went on strike.

There has been no change in equal pay for younger teachers, which was the issue that teachers went on strike over.

The deal also outlines that this is the final offer the government will offer the ASTI – which is one of three teachers’ unions, and the only one not to sign up to the Lansdowne Road agreement.

The ASTI’s President Ed Byrne says teachers are “standing up for their most vulnerable colleagues”.

“Our members are standing firm and telling us to continue to hold the line on Junior Cycle reform and to vigorously pursue equal pay for equal work for our young teachers,” Byrne said.

After the results of the ballot were announced, Education Minister Richard Bruton reiterated that it was the government’s final offer.

“It is regrettable that many ASTI members will now suffer permanent financial losses and the loss of other benefits as a result of this choice,” the minister said.

Bruton also added the new Junior Cycle programme will continue despite the ballot:

Implementation plans are not impacted by the outcome of this ballot.  Schools have been notified of a second calendar window in the 2016/17 school year to allow for the completion and submission of the Junior Cycle English Assessment Task by students.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: After weeks of negotiation, a ‘final’ pay deal has been offered to ASTI teachers

Read: After late night talks, a possible breakthrough at the ASTI teacher dispute

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