Push to prevent closure of schools by teachers’ industrial action

Plans to prevent the possible closure of secondary schools by teachers’ industrial action are being finalised by Education Minister Richard Bruton’s officials and school managers.

Results of a ballot in which union leaders have recommended its 18,000 members stop doing supervision and substitution work in a dispute over pay for the duties will be announced next month by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland .

With the absence of cover for such work causing a potential health and safety issue, both sides have been meeting for months to prepare for the outcome.

Mr Bruton told representatives of Education and Training Boards at their annual conference that school closures are inevitable if ASTI members stop doing supervision and substitution — unless contingency measures are put in place.

“My department and the school management bodies, including Education and Training Boards Ireland, are currently discussing a contingency plan and will make every effort to avoid disruption to schools,” he said.

ASTI members mostly work at religious-owned schools, which make up over half the 730 second-level schools, but ETBI-run second-level schools are mostly staffed by members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland.

They are continuing to do the work, for which payment had ceased, but equivalent amounts are being restored to teachers’ pay over the next two school years for TUI and Irish National Teachers’ Organisation members as both unions have accepted the Lansdowne Road Agreement rejected by ASTI.

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