ASTI teachers to strike over seven days

Industrial action is in response to the "worsening of members’ terms and conditions" and the lower pay conditions for recently qualified teachers

ASTI teachers to strike over seven days

ASTI members protest outside Leinster House in Dublin in July 2016 | Image: Rollingnews.ie

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said that "severe disruption to students and parents is inevitable" following the decision by secondary school teachers to take strike action.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) earlier announced seven days of strikes over the next three months.

The action is in response to lower pay for recently qualified teachers and the worsening of ASTI members’ terms and conditions.

The announcement follows a ballot yesterday which saw a large majority of union members vote in favour of industrial action.

The teachers are also set to withdraw from supervision and substitution from Monday, November 7th.

Unless alternative staff can be found to carry out these duties before that date, hundreds of schools face closure on health and safety grounds.

Speaking to RTÉ this morning, Minister Bruton said that due to Garda vetting procedures it will take “at least” seven weeks to recruit staff to take on the roles.

A Department of Education statement this evening said officials had asked the ASTI to "give sufficient notice" of withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties in order to allow time for recruitment and Garda vetting.

The department said the contingency plans were designed to keep schools open, adding that it is "regrettable that ASTI have decided not to cooperate."

ASTI president ED Byrne said members are “committed to achieving equal pay for equal work for all teachers”.

“Recently qualified teachers spend five to six years training, including obtaining the required Master’s qualification for teaching at second-level,” he said.

“They are then expected to teach alongside colleagues who have completely different pay arrangements for their entire careers. The sense of injustice amongst all teachers is palpable.”

He said the union was willing to talk to the Department of Education but only when there is a clear roadmap as to when recently qualified teachers can expect equality of pay:

Some 80% of the union’s members voted in favour of the action in yesterday’s ballot.

The strikes are set to take place on the following dates:

  • Thursday, October 27th
  • Tuesday, November 8th
  • Wednesday, November 16th
  • Thursday, November 24th
  • Tuesday, November 29th
  • Tuesday, December 6th
  • Wednesday, December 7th

Mr Byrne said the withdrawal from substitution and supervision work is in response to the “extreme and hostile reaction by the Government” to the union’s decision to reject the Lansdowne Road Agreement

“Teachers are reluctant to take industrial action or to interrupt the running of schools in any way," he said.

"However, we have flagged our serious issues well in advance and remain available and committed to a resolution through talks without pre-conditions.”

The Department of Education said it has previously been made clear to ASTI leadership that "has not and will not be setting any pre-conditions to dialogue taking place".

"The issues of concern to ASTI members can only be resolved through dialogue. The Minister hopes that the union can now engage in constructive dialogue with the Department," said a department statement.

The statement said the Minister has "repeatedly offered" to suspend the measures taken as a result of the Lansdowne Road rejection provided ASTI members agree to work the 33 additional hours imposed under the Haddington Road and Croke Park agreements. 

The ASTI is Ireland’s largest second-level teachers’ union with 17,500 members teaching in more than 520 schools nationwide.