Teacher strikes: Both sides must make progress

It’s a pity the Taoiseach’s call on secondary school teachers to reconsider today’s strike did not come sooner. It is moot whether there was any hope of deferring the action but there was no chance of a breakthrough because Mr Kenny left his intervention to the 12th hour.

He hits the nail on the head when he says the only people who will suffer are the students. For exam students, the worst thing that could happen is a teachers’ strike and unions are cynically using that weapon in this bitter dispute.

Realistically, if there is room for compromise which might undo the present logjam over the government’s controversial plans for reform of the Junior Cycle, it should be seized by both sides of this damaging row.

The sooner teachers and Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan get back to the table the greater the chance of averting a third strike. As Churchill put it: “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

The question being asked by parents is when will the dispute be resolved. Is it going to continue right up to the Leaving Cert? By then, many a young person’s plans would be thwarted and their careers blighted before they begin.

Teachers must accept that there has to be progress in the development of curricula. And Ms O’Sullivan, who has already compromised, must bring a more subtle approach to negotiations. At the end of the day, there will have to be a resolution.

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