STRIKE action was yesterday unanimously endorsed by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland in opposition to the education cutbacks, which include the loss of teaching posts and the abolition of the book grant scheme.
The TUI, representing 14,500 teachers and lecturers at second and third level, said that it“condemned unreservedly” cuts at all levels of education which would have a “devastatingly adverse effect on the already impoverished system”.
Speaking in favour of the motion, which mandates the union’s executive to take industrial action up to andincluding strike action as part of their campaign against the cutbacks, former TUI president Paddy Healy said 40 years spent fighting for change at third level was now being undone by the Government.
He told the TUI’s annual congress in Rochestown, Co Cork, that the current policy was “criminal and crazy”.
“We are not going to hand away systems built over 40 years,” he said.
“Our Institute of Technology system is one of the most successful in the world and creates jobs. They are trying to cut and destroy this.”
He added: “We have to decide what we are going to do and not just shout about it,” he added.
Vice-president of the TUI Bernie Ruane said it was “unbelievable” that the Government had gone to Florida to “gaze into space” when it could barely keep the national airline afloat or doors on helicopters.
“It is a real case of Nero playing while Rome burns,” she said.
Delegates also expressed their dismay over the way the Irish Congress of Trade Unions had handleddiscussions with theGovernment.
TUI president Don Ryan said he was sceptical about whether partnership, abandoned in February when talks broke down, could be salvaged.
“I don’t believe we can have any confidence in the ICTU doing anything about restoring the 3.5% pay rise taken away from us, the levies imposed on us, or defending the education system.”
Mr Ryan said however, this did not mean the TUI was about to walk away from its affiliation, through the ICTU, with other unions.
“We must create a newalliance within the ICTU with the other teacher unions in particular and shake up the ICTU from the inside to get it to do what it has failed to do — deliver for teachers, theeducation system and public services in general,” he said.
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