Hundreds of secondary schools remain shut as TUI continue with 'last resort' strike

Hundreds of secondary schools remain shut as TUI continue with 'last resort' strike
Members of the TUI pictured outside Cork Institute of Technology during a national one-day strike over pay inequality for new entrants. Picture Denis Minihane.

Hundreds of secondary schools remain shut as a result of a nationwide strike which has impacted 200,000 students.

In what has been described by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) president Seamus Lahart as a "last resort", almost 20,000 educators from 400 schools are continuing to strike over what they describe as an ongoing failure to eliminate pay discrimination within the teaching profession.

The strike, which centres on the difference in salaries between teachers who joined the profession before 2011 and those who joined after, has resulted in the closure of the 248 Education and Training Board schools and almost 150 community, comprehensive, and voluntary schools.

TUI president Seamus Lahart said: “19,000 striking TUI members are sending out an unequivocal message today to all politicians who are members of parties that aspire to being a part of the next government.

“Our campaign will continue until the discriminatory two-tier pay system, unilaterally imposed in 2011, is finally abolished.

It is worth highlighting that the majority of TUI members are not personally affected by pay discrimination — they are striking in solidarity with the ever-growing proportion of colleagues who are affected.

The TUI said that students who are due to sit examinations today now have a chance to study for their mock exams.

"Our teachers always do the best for their students. They will have a chance to study for their mocks today, hopefully they're all studying as we speak," Mr Lahart said.

The teaching union warned that more strikes could be on the cards if their demands are not met.

Meanwhile, the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) is also balloting its members on potential industrial action with the results being announced next month.

Additional reporting by Jess Casey.

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