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Teachers' Union 'expects a lot of schools to close' during strike action

TUI members are set to strike on 4 February over pay inequality.

Image: Shutterstock/GUNDAM_Ai

THE TEACHERS’ UNION of Ireland has said it expects a high volume of second-level schools to close during its one-day stoppage on 4 February. 

The warning comes after members of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) were instructed by the union not to provide cover for their colleagues in the Teacher’s Union Of Ireland (TUI) when they strike next month over pay inequality.

Citing health and safety reasons, TUI President Seamus Lahart told TheJournal.ie that you can’t bring students into a school where you don’t have the right number of teachers and the TUI, therefore, “expects a lot of schools to close”.

The TUI which represents some 19,000 members in second-level schools, colleges of further and adult education, institutes of technology and universities, will strike on Tuesday 4 February due to the big pay differences in the early years of employment between those hired before and after 2011.

The Union says new secondary school teachers earn 10% less in the first 10 years of their career than they would have before the recession-era cutbacks were implemented.

ASTI members, who are not involved in the strike, have been told they will be required to operate the normal trade union protocols for workplaces where there is more than one union during a strike situation.

The stance of ASTI members means that some schools around the country may be forced to close on 4 February. Boards of Management in each school will decide if they will close on the day of industrial action

“No member of ASTI, including principal teachers, deputy principal teachers and/or other post holders may undertake any duties that are normally done by colleagues who are members of TUI,” according to an ASTI leaflet.

The ASTI said it will not strike alongside its sister union as “the ASTI began its campaign for pay parity much earlier and with more vigour and focus than any other public sector union, several years ago”.

“We are further advanced in achieving an end to this shocking stain that has afflicted the teaching profession,” ASTI general secretary Kiren Christie said in a letter to members.

According to Christie, members of the ASTI have paid a huge price in “terms of the penalties imposed under FEMPI legislation and continue to suffer due to lost and delayed increments”.

“Other unions have a lot of catching up to do,” he said.

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Adam Daly

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