Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has told ASTI members threatening strike action over the Haddington Road deal to think “carefully” ahead of an upcoming ballot — and to be prepared to face the consequences if they reject the agreement.
The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland has recommended its members reject the deal. Mr Quinn said contingency plans were being put in place in case the ballot goes against the deal, adding that school closures could not be ruled out.
“We will be putting contingency plans in place if the vote is against Haddington Road, because there are consequences,” he said.
“We will have to finalise what those details are but, of course, if they don’t accept what is contained in Haddington Road — which was accepted by the other two teaching unions and the rest of the entire public service — then there will be consequences, there will be consequences as set out in the detailed documentation that has been circulated to the members,” he said.
On schools possibly closing in the event of industrial action, he said: “We just don’t know, we don’t know what the reaction is going to be, we don’t know how they are going to respond; first of all, we don’t know how they are going to vote.
He warned that one possible consequence would be secondary school teachers earning less than their primary school counterparts.
“In the context of where this country is and the journey we still have to travel, I believe [Haddington Road] was a sound and solid decision to have been made and the consequence of rejection would result in a situation, possibly, where some secondary school teachers would be paid less than primary school teachers.”
He said some parents had already been “discommoded” due to having to attend meetings during school hours, thereby losing earnings through missing work.
“I hope that whatever the result is that the Leaving Certificate and the Junior Certificate students are facilitated, but if they are facilitated that means somebody else is less facilitated,” Mr Quinn added.
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