Schools still set for closure as ASTI talks end with no agreement

Teachers will refuse to carry out supervision and substitution duties - resulting in the closure of 400 schools.

Talks aimed at averting the widespread closures of secondary schools across the country have finished with no sign of a breakthrough this evening.

Negotiations will resume tomorrow but it is expected that the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) strike action will go ahead next week.

Today's talks lasted for approximately four hours and they are set to resume at 3:30pm tomorrow.

Teachers will refuse to carry out supervision and substitution duties - resulting in the closure of 400 schools.

The action will affect some 200,000 secondary school pupils unless the ASTI and the Department of Education can find some common ground tomorrow.

Teachers are expected to turn up for work as normal on Monday however the withdrawal from supervision and substitution will leave many schools unable to open for health and safety reasons.

The government has refused to pay ASTI teachers for these duties unless the union signs up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement of public sector pay.

A statement from the Department of education this evening said officials have remained in regular contact with the school management bodies on contingency arrangements ahead of the ASTI action.

"However, at this stage it remains the case that widespread school closures are expected from the 7th November due to the ASTI’s industrial action and non-cooperation with contingency," said the statement.

Yesterday evening, ASTI president Ed Byrne said it was “always inevitable” that deducting pay from teachers for supervision and substitution duties would lead to a withdrawal from the work.

“We made this clear to the Department as early as July of this year. Teachers received a commitment under the Haddington Road Agreement that this money would be paid,” he said.

“The Department’s decision to pursue this course of action is extremely problematic in terms of resolving this dispute.”

The department said a proposed pay deal - which includes a 15% pay rise for new teachers - is already being implemented by two other teaching unions - the INTO and the TUI.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe said he finds it “quite disappointing” that the ASTI is “still holding out.”

“I am very much aware that there are talks ongoing between the teacher union and the Department of Education and I would like to see some conclusion to these talks particularly for the parents and children,” he said.

With students set to lose up to seven days of school if the strikes go ahead, these Leaving Certificate students gave their views.