ASTI strike: No end to pay dispute in sight as talks end without resolution

Hundreds of schools face closure as teachers plan to withdraw from supervision and substitution

ASTI strike: No end to pay dispute in sight as talks end without resolution

The ASTI protest outside Dáil Eireann to highlight the fact that recently qualified teachers are on inferior pay scales | Image: Rollingnews.ie

The Department of Education and Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) have failed to reach agreement ahead of planned strike action. 

A meeting between the two sides ended without resolution this afternoon, but more talks have been agreed for Wednesday. 

In a statement, the department said: "Officials have remained in regular contact with the school management bodies on contingency arrangements ahead of the withdrawal of supervision and substitution from 7th November.

"A further meeting with the school management bodies is planned tomorrow.

"However, at this stage it remains the case that widespread school closures are expected from the 7th November due to ASTI's non-cooperation with contingency [plans]."

The ASTI is planning seven days of strike action, between this Thursday and early December, as part of its pay campaign.

Its members are also due to withdraw from supervision and substitution duties after the mid-term break.

ASTI vice-president Ger Curtin told Newstalk Drive that the dispute is about fairness, not money, because many of those striking on Thursday will be on higher pay scales.

"You will have a lot of people on picket lines who will have no financial gain to get from this, because they are not lesser-paid teachers, but they are prepared to go on strike for their colleagues."

Earlier, ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie told Newstalk Breakfast that there could be no compromise.

"Colleagues sit side by side and they're not experiencing or enjoying equal work for equal pay," he said. 

"We want the restoration of that issue, and we want it in short order.

"That's what our campaign is about and that's why our strike action has been mandated."

Last week, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) advised its members that they should not undertake any work normally done by members of the ASTI who are involved in the action.

This applies both to strike days and to supervision and substitution.

But it also noted that there are in excess of 200 dual union schools - schools in which there are members both of the TUI and the ASTI on the staff.

It added that if pickets are placed at such schools, TUI members cannot direct members not to pass a picket placed by another union - as this would be in breach of industrial relations legislation.

"A TUI member who does not pass a picket placed by another union would be engaged in unofficial action, and therefore would not be covered by the immunities that are afforded by legislation for an official strike. In addition, s/he would not be paid for the day in question," the TUI said.

Meanwhile, gardaí in the GRA and the AGSI are planning four days of action next month.

And members of the AGSI, who refused to operate the Pulse garda computer system last Friday, will also withdraw from administration duties this Friday.