ASTI president warns a strike is "the only way you can get anywhere"

Richard Bruton says he is 'hopeful' of no strike action

ASTI president warns a strike is "the only way you can get anywhere"

ASTI General-Secretary Kieran Christie (centre) joined members of the ASTI trade union protest outside Leinster House in Dublin | Image:

The president of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) says a strike is "the only way you can get anywhere".

Ed Byrne was speaking after the association held two separate ballots on industrial action.

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

In a separate ballot - over measures applied to ASTI members following their rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement - members will be asked to vote on withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties.

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.

ASTI President Ed Byrne claims his members are working alot more than is being claimed.

"We had an arrangement with the Government that we would provide (supervision and substitution) for three years free of charge and they would then put the money back in two moities," he told the Pat Kenny Show.

"They are now using the financial emergency measures in the public interest to deny us that money.

"That's another 43 hours...there are 43 hours that teachers provide under supervision and substitution."

While Education Minister Richard Bruton has said there is still opportunity for the ASTI to discuss the issue of pay.

Minister Bruton says the union made a decision to withdrawn from the Lansdowne Road Agreement, and will therefore not get the benefits of it.

"In May this year the ASTI balloted and then directed their members to withdraw from these hours, so they have made a decision to withdraw from the operation of these hours and from the Lansdowne Road Agreement - and naturally they don't get the benefits of an agreement from which they have withdrawn and ceased to cooperate with," he told Newstalk Breakfast earlier.

"There is the opportunity for the ASTI to sit down, along with the INTO and TUI, to make progress on this issue - but they've decided unilaterally that they don't want to do that.

"They've withdrawn the one hour a week and that puts them outside of Lansdowne Road, and puts them outside the chance to participate in these productive talks."

Asked if a strike was inevitable, Mr Bruton replied: "I certainly hope not, because I can't see the rationale for this dispute".