Schools across the country to close tomorrow as ASTI proceed with strike action

Last minute talks have ended without agreement with ASTI president calling the action "regrettable but necessary"

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Schools across the country will be closed tomorrow after talks between the Department of Education and the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) ended without agreement this afternoon.

A government statement said both sides have agreed to continue talks on Friday “with a view to agreeing a series of further engagements next week.”

The department said it had been informed by school management bodies that 507 schools will close tomorrow with 228 remaining open.

The Minister for Education , Richard Bruton said he was disappointed by the decision to strike “which will close schools unnecessarily tomorrow.”

“There is a deal on offer to ASTI which would see pay increases of 15% and 22% for new entrant teachers, with further benefits in terms of working conditions and a route to further possible improvements after that through the Public Pay Commission,” he said.

Minister Bruton again warned the government cannot afford to offer any deal that undermines the Lansdowne Road agreement on public sector pay.

“It would not be equal or fair for us to conclude sectoral deals with particular groups of public servants to the exclusion of other groups of public servants,” he said.

“To do so would also mean that we do not have the money left in the public purse to provide increases in social welfare payments for vulnerable groups, tax reductions for people at work, or investments in improvements in public services that people rely on.”

Earlier today the department issued a circular to school managers which included arrangements to stop paying ASTI members from November 7th – when they are due to withdraw from the supervision of students.

ASTI President Ed Byrne called the release "provocative" and "problematic."

“It is also worrying that our members would have their pay threatened - after all it is not they who are shutting the schools," he said.

Mr Byrne said today's talks "achieved very little" and said tomorrow’s action is “regrettable but necessary.”

“Progress was very, very slow; almost static I would say. Large differences remain, we have agreed to make contact on Friday after what will now be a day of strikes," he said.

“It is one day in the year. What we have got to make sure now is that it does not become any more and I hope that is focusing minds.

“There are at least six more days of strikes announced and there is this threat with regard to supervision and substitution and how that might affect schools so I think despite the problems of tomorrow, there is still a lot to play for.”

John Curtis, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body representing over 380 voluntary schools in Ireland said the real concern is what might happen after the mid-term break: