Impact of teachers’ rejection of deal to be known next week

The impact of teachers’ rejection of a settlement deal on pay and the junior cycle dispute will not be known for almost another week.

The ASTI plans an 'orderly withdrawal' by its members from supervision and substitution duties. Picture: Domnick Walsh

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland will allow members who are principals or deputy principals to recruit and roster replacement staff when members stop supervising breaks or providing substitution cover.

A ban on organising external supervisors led to the prospect of indefinite closures of more than 400 secondary schools last term, but schools only closed for a day in early November before conciliation talks began.

The union had already decided, before the vote not to accept proposals aimed at ending the industrial action, to allow time for schools to organise external supervisors. It also plans “an orderly withdrawal” by its members from supervision and substitution.

But exact details of the union’s strategy after the vote will be discussed at a meeting of its 23-member standing committee on Thursday and Friday.

ASTI president Ed Byrne said the Department of Education previously suggested a contingency plan on supervision could be put in place, as long as principals were permitted to co-operate; that there was enough lead-in time; and that ASTI members would not obstruct external supervisors’ work.

“These three things will be in place,” Mr Byrne told the Irish Examiner.

The Joint Managerial Body, which represents nearly 400 schools staffed by ASTI members, said it is very disappointed with Thursday’s result but did not comment on its implications.

“Our main concern is for the welfare of students in our schools, particularly those in exam classes,” said JMB general secretary John Curtis.

Since negotiations began in November, the union deferred a series of one-day strikes in pursuit of equal pay for recently-qualified teachers. They are unlikely to resume before the summer, as Mr Byrne said members are very aware of the pressures on students and families as exam preparations increase. But he stressed that members would be balloted immediately for possible strikes if the Department of Education moves ahead with the possibility of even one teacher being made redundant as a result of the ballot outcome.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said the withdrawal of protection against redundancy is one of the potential consequences known to ASTI members before they were balloted.

“This isn’t something I have done or threatened, it’s something they have done by their decision,” he said.

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