Education Minister 'disappointed' with ASTI decision to ballot members on industrial action

If teachers vote in favour of strike action it could result in school closures this autumn

Education Minister 'disappointed' with ASTI decision to ballot members on industrial action

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The Education Minister has expressed his "disappointment" after the ASTI announced it will ballot its members on industrial action.

The union - which represents more than 18,000 second-level teachers - made the decision yesterday.

Members will be balloted on industrial action - up to and including strike action - over new teachers' pay.

A separate ballot will ask members to vote on withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties, in response to measures implemented by the Department of Education following the union's withdrawal from 'Croke Park' hours.

The ASTI has not signed up to the new Lansdowne Road public sector pay deal.

It says measures implemented against them have included freezing of pay increments and non-payment of money due "in recognition of supervision and substitution work".

The results of both ballots are expected by mid-October.

In a statement, the Department of Education and Skills said: "[Minister Bruton] reiterated his genuine belief that continuing dialogue between his Department and the ASTI would be in the best interests of schools, parents, students and teachers.

"It is regrettable that ASTI seem determined to pursue a route of confrontation rather than dialogue."

The statement says that Minister Bruton has repeated his offer that his department will suspend implementing measures linked with the rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement - if the ASTI suspends their withdrawal from the Croke Park hours.

"The Minister believes that this would provide a more constructive context for talks to take place," it adds.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Education, Thomas Byrne, has also said he is disappointed with the ASTI's decision.

"Any ASTI action is not likely to be supported by parents or the general public and would cause unnecessary disruption to students," Deputy Byrne said.

"Meaningful talks are the only way to progress these issues.

"The Government are aware of how to promptly and effectively deal with this matter; a signal of clear progress on this crucial issue for teachers would act as a catalyst to reach a resolution and other industrial relations issues within the education sector,” he added.