Secondary schools could close within two weeks as strike looms

ASTI members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action

The Education Minister Richard Bruton says a teachers strike over pay is not necessary.

Secondary schools could be closed within two weeks if teachers go ahead with their strike.

ASTI members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action yesterday.

The union is unhappy with pay levels for new staff and has threatened to withdraw from supervision and substitution duties.

They are meeting today to discuss their next step.

Mr Bruton claimed the pay dispute, which could close hundreds of schools next month, will have to be solved eventually.

And he is still hopeful it can be avoided.

"I believe that this is an industrial dispute that's not necessary, it ill have to be resolved by dialogue eventually - and I think we have demonstrated our capacity to make real progress on the issues of concern to members", he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"The ASTI have chosen not to enter meaningful engagement on those issue, and instead have gone the industrial action route.

"But dialogue can still resolve this".

"I can understand teachers have a legitimate claim and want to see restoration - but it has to be done in a process that's fair to everyone.

"We wouldn't have been able to provide increases for social welfare recipients, or a little bit of tax break, or 7,000 extra people at the front line unless we had an agreement that is fair to everyone."

ASTI General-Secretary Kieran Christie says they are still open to a solution.