Industrial action threatened if Leaving Cert changes railroaded through without consultation

Industrial action threatened if Leaving Cert changes railroaded through without consultation

Teachers have told the Education Minister they are prepared to take industrial action, which could include strikes, if changes to the Leaving Cert curriculum are railroaded through without consultation.

Teachers at the Teachers Union of Ireland congress in Killarney overwhelmingly backed a motion calling for consultation on any potential changes.

Several motions on the issue were discussed by delegates at the conference, with teachers outlining several red-line issues that could push them to industrial action.

Gerry Quinn of the Laois branch of the TUI said the union must send a very clear message to the government that they will not accept reforms without consultation.

Mr Quinn said, "What are we going to do about the exam reforms? How can we prevent threats being actualised against us?

This proposal seeks the executive to learn the lessons of the junior cycle campaign. How can we be guided in terms of an effective strategy?

The motion called for the retention of nationally certified examinations, to oppose attempts to impose teacher assessment of their own students for certified examinations and to oppose an increase in workloads.

Mr Quinn said that these are "non-negotiable".

"We won't do it," he said.

"We must be prepared for industrial action. We signal clearly that if the principles in this motion are attached, we will defend ourselves with industrial action up to and including strike action."

Mr Quinn said that despite teachers' opposition to junior cycle reform, the changes were introduced. He said that unions adopted a 'policy of drift' and failed to halt the changes.

"We need to take ownership of this," he said.

We are pro-educational reform but we will oppose those who undermine our conditions of work and damage the educational system.

At the opening of the congress, TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann warned that teachers would not be silenced during any potential reforms.

"Teachers, acting through their unions, constitute not just another constituency. Teachers constitute the critical constituency, without whose support, reforms, if attempted, will founder," he said.

"The TUI will demand - and we will get - the necessary, robust structures. We will not be consigned to the sidelines, given usual suspect status, focus-grouped. We will be at the heart of things."

A motion was passed calling for the TUI to work with the ASTI on a "cohesive strategy" to oppose any changes to the cycle that could damage conditions of work or the educational system.

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