Union chief defends rejection of teacher pay proposal

The head of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland has defended the union executive’s decision to recommend that teachers should reject pay proposals offered by the Government.

The ASTI’s 17,000 members are to be balloted on the deal, which has been brokered in an effort to avoid further strikes that have seen secondary schools closed across the country.

However the ASTI executive has advised that it believes the deal should be rejected. President Ed Byrne said the deal offers nothing new on pay for new teachers and that it will do nothing to address pay inequality.

“The big issues on this are equal pay for equal work, if [the Government] were to show us how that would be achieved then a lot of the other problems would be solved,” Mr Byrne told This Week on RTÉ Radio 1.

“To say the pay commission will look at it, or will consider it, and then of course it can only offer advice to the Government, I don’t think that’s good enough.

“I think we really need to hear from Government ministers that they really believe in equal pay for equal work, and that it is their intention to work towards it,” he said.

Mr Byrne said the ASTI took issue with the fact that the deal would also see teachers agree to Junior Certificate reforms, and said the two issues should be dealt with separately.

He said the ASTI has “major education concerns” surrounding the Junior Certificate reform. “We don’t believe it is fit for purpose; we actually believe that it’s a deliberate dumbing-down of the system. It doesn’t have, for example, a higher level and ordinary level, it has common levels. We believe it will create a massive disconnect between the junior cycle and the senior cycle.

The ASTI said it will defer its industrial action pending the outcome of the ballot, which is set to take place in January.


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