Teachers’ union calls off strike action

Disruption at over 400 schools has ended, at least temporarily, after the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and Department of Education agreed to conciliation talks last night.
Teachers’ union calls off strike action

Schools should reopen this morning as a result of the agreement of both sides to accept the invitation from Anna Perry.

She chairs the Teachers’ Conciliation Council, as well as being an official of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), although it was not certain last night if the intervention is on behalf of the WRC.

The move came after a lengthy meeting of the ASTI’s 23-member standing committee following another one-day strike by its 17,500 members in pursuit of equal pay for recently-qualified teachers. That shut down over 500 second-level schools but around 400 of those were due to stay closed for an indefinite period over the union’s withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties.

In a statement at 9pm, the ASTI confirmed its standing committee had accepted Ms Perry’s invitation to enter talks. It said: “The ASTI has agreed to defer its directive on supervision and substitution and its strike action to facilitate this process for the duration of the talks. It is expected that this process will continue until the end of November.”

A Department of Education spokesperson said Education Minister Richard Bruton welcomed the initiative for conciliation talks, as well as the decision of the ASTI to suspend its one-day strikes and withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties.

The process will allow breathing space for bot parties to consider any further developments in the wider public service pay sphere.

The department’s statement said it had accepted Ms Perry’s invitation to meet with her “to discuss matters of mutual concern relating to the ASTI’s industrial action that fall within the remit of the Teachers’ Conciliation Council.” A spokesperson was unable to confirm which issues would be on or off the agenda last night.

However, as issues of public pay policy arenot understood to be normally considered by the council, it is unclear whether the process will be able to deal with the issue of new entrants’ pay.

A further five strikes had been planned by the ASTI on that issue up to December 7, although government pay policy may be evolvinganyway owing to rising pressure from other public service unions since last week’s deal recommended by the Labour Court in the dispute between gardaí and the Department of Justice.

That might restrict the conciliation process to dealing with the issues around supervision and substitution and Mr Bruton’s insistence the reason ASTI members have not received the same pay rises as other teachers was because of their refusal to continue working extra hours previously delivered under an old pay deal.

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