Monday start for action over cuts and levy

SECONDARY teachers are to increase pressure on the Government to reverse education cutbacks and the controversial public service pension levy.

On the final day of the ASTI conference in Killarney, the 500 delegates condemned the cuts and the levy and committed the union to a strategy up to and including strike action.

Following a two-and-a-half hour private session, they overwhelming passed a motion that had been reworded by the union’s standing committee, after a procession of speakers on Wednesday felt it was not strong enough.

Directives are to be issued to the 18,000 ASTI members and will come in to effect when schools re-open on Monday.

Teachers are to withdraw from parent/teacher and staff meetings outside school time, and are also refusing to take part in school development planning meetings.

Also, no teacher will take up duties resulting from vacant posts of responsibility and there will be limited cooperation with whole school inspection and subject inspection.

Cooperation with the other second-level union, the TUI, is also being sought on the strategy.

During a sometimes heated debate, militant delegates put pressure on the ASTI leadership to take a firmer stance on the cuts — the issue that dominated the three-day conference.

They described the original motion deploring the cuts, as “limp” and “mealy-mouthed” with some calling for industrial action, including a work-to-rule.

The plight of 3,000 part-time and temporary teachers, many of whom could lose their jobs in September, was also highlighted. The ASTI claim second-level schools could lose an average of 2.6 such teaching posts in September.

Mark Walsh, a non-permanent teacher from Bray, Co Wicklow, said he was replacing a teacher on maternity leave and had just two days’ work left before becoming unemployed.

“I would be prepared to go on a one-day strike on this issue before the end of the year. I want to see something serious done for non-permanent teachers.”

Rosario Walsh from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, who said she had to wait 22 years before being made permanent, said there was a real danger a new generation of teachers may never set foot in a classroom.

“These bright young people could be lost to the system. Are we going to stand idly by and let this happen?” she asked.

Former ASTI president Bernadine O’Sullivan from Dublin north-west, warned of attempts by the Department of Education to introduce a “yellow pack” system of teachers earning e20,000 per annum.

She called on the union to respond to such an innovation and to oppose it vehemently.


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