WITH the 18,000 members of the powerful ASTI secondary teachers’ union poised to vote on whether or not to embark on yet another campaign of industrial action, the prospect of school closures has increased following Saturday’s decision to ballot more than half of the country’s second-level teachers.
This will bring an all-too-familiar sense of concern to parents and pupils, particularly those studying for critical exams which could well decide their future careers.
It also promises to be another test of the unity of this shaky government. Furthermore, it will undoubtedly be the first real test of the negotiating abilities of Richard Bruton in his role as minister for education and skills, who has expressed disappointment at the decision.
Effectively, ASTI — which is not party to the Lansdowne Road Agreement between the Government and most other unions — is renewing a long-running campaign to ensure that teachers who entered the profession after 2010 are put on the same pay scales as their colleagues. At present, their pay scales differ even though new teachers have the same duties and responsibilities.
As ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie put it: “New and recently-qualified teachers are not only faced with years of casual short-term contracts, but an inferior rate of pay for doing the exact same work as their colleagues. Our goal is simple: We want equal pay for equal work.”
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