Calls to give new teachers more hours

THERE were strong calls yesterday for new teachers to be given more hours, amid fears that those struggling for work could suffer mental health problems while retired teachers take substitute classes.

The ASTI conference heard that retired teachers still taking substitute hours were “an embarrassment” and were taking a living from younger teachers, many of whom are struggling to get work.

Greta Harrison from west Mayo said teachers on the Live Register needed to be prioritised when it came to employing people in schools, while John Molloy, (Galway East) a retired teacher, said other retired teachers “are not welcome in the staff room” at a time when younger teachers are struggling for work.

“The message should go out today – we had our day, we got it fairly good, the young teacher today hasn’t got it as good,” he said, adding that non-permanent teachers needed “every minute” available in schools so they can pay their bills and that the policy of the union should be that those temporary/non-permanent people should get priority over retired teachers. Another speaker, Mary Lysaght, said: “We have so many teachers outside there who have no living of any kind.

“You are the people who are keeping a living out of their [young teachers] pockets and I ask you to think about it.

“I am actually going to go one step further and I am going to ask you here… that the next morning you walk in the door of a school to do subbing that you will actually feel embarrassed because I think this must stop.

“You are an embarrassment to us,” she said. The conference heard that many young teachers cannot even afford to join the union as they are not earning enough money to pay their fees.”

A member of the ASTI non-permanent teachers committee Martha Goggin said: “I would worry for the mental health of these young twenty-year-olds and that they would lose the idealism that they have when they leave these education colleges.” Jim O’Brien (Navan) said there could be slippage this year in part-time teachers’ hours because of the large number of principal retirements.

Paul McGrath from Cork read a poem outlining how young and non-permanent teachers are “struggling every day” and “never drove a Merc, never got a perk”.

The conference also heard of teachers being dismissed after three years, deemed “surplus to requirements,” to avoid a CID (Contract of indefinite duration) while others have contracts offering just eight or nine hours a week. The ASTI has almost 3,000 non-permanent members.

This week’s conference was marked by growing anger from teachers regarding education cutbacks and the public sector agreement.

The union’s 18,500 members will vote in the coming weeks on whether to back a motion vehemently opposing the public sector pay agreement. The 500 delegates attending the ASTI annual conference in Galway unanimously backed a standing committee emergency motion opposing the deal, and the union’s Central Executive Council, which has 180 members, will meet this morning in Galway to rubber-stamp the motion.

It is expected they will recommend that all members vote against the deal.

ASTI president Joe Moran said that in his view the union’s Central Executive Council had become a “moribund” organisation and that it would be better if new rules were introduced that would include younger members to a greater degree. He said the ageing profile of the union was a challenge but could grow to include up to 30,000 members in the coming years if those challenges were met.

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