Covid-19: Teachers' union rules out immediate industrial action 

Covid-19: Teachers' union rules out immediate industrial action 

ASTI has ruled out any immediate industrial action but says substantial progress on safety in schools is needed to avoid it. File Picture.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has ruled out any immediate industrial action but says that substantial progress on safety issues in schools is needed to avoid it.

The ASTI standing committee met today to consider the outcome of its recent ballot, which saw it receive a mandate for industrial action unless the Government moves to address key issues.

“At the Standing Committee meeting, it was reported that there has been improved engagement with the Department of Education and NPHET, and a number of clarifications have been provided,” the union said in a statement 

“It is expected that this engagement will continue.” 

Substantial progress on safety issues in schools is needed to avoid industrial action, according to ASTI president Ann Piggott.

These include adequate testing and test turnaround, redefinition of close contacts, IT resources for students and teachers to facilitate continuity of learning, and reasonable accommodations for teachers in the ‘high risk’ category.

We need much more progress in order to get to the point where teachers believe that the safety of students and teachers is being prioritised during this pandemic.

Equal pay for equal work

In a separate ballot, ASTI members voted to take industrial action for equal pay for equal work, to be taken in conjunction with one or both of the other teacher unions.

The meeting today decided that the ASTI will contact the other teacher unions the INTO and TUI with a view to seeking a combined effort towards the matter. 

“The current teacher-shortage crisis is a result of an unfair pay gap that cannot be allowed to continue," Ms Piggott said. 

"Teachers affected are on a different pay scale than their colleagues for their entire career. This destructive policy has caused a drop in morale and has exacerbated a recruitment and retention crisis in second-level teaching. We will be seeking to work with the INTO and the TUI to end pay inequality." 

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the Government is aware that the teacher unions have outstanding issues of concern in relation to new entrant pay. It has committed that these matters will be given full consideration in the context of the next round of pay talks, he added. 

"Planning for school reopening was undertaken in close consultation and discussion with key education partners." 

Since schools reopened, that engagement has continued on a weekly basis, he added. 

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