ASTI to vote on junior cycle reform without recommendation

Leadership of secondary teachers’ union remains divided over compromise proposals

ASTI members protesting earlier this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

ASTI members protesting earlier this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times


Members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) are to vote on whether to accept the compromise junior cycle reform plan without a recommendation from the union’s leadership.

The union’s central executive committee (CEC) has agreed to put the plan to a ballot of members, but without any advice on whether they should vote Yes or No.

Its sister union, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), has recommended that its members accept the deal, but there are still serious divisions within the ASTI leadership over the issue.

In a statement after the ASTI executive meeting in Dublin on Saturday, union president Máire Ní Chiarba thanked teachers for their commitment to the campaign for “a fair, equitable and quality” second-level education.

“The junior cycle campaign demonstrates the power of a united and persistent teaching profession standing up for education.

“It is now up to teachers to examine these proposals to decide if they are a basis for commencing implementation of the revised junior cycle.”

ASTI Fightback

The ASTI Fightback faction, which has two members on the union’s most powerful standing committee, held a press conference last week pledging to campaign for a No vote irrespective of the CEC’s decision.

The ASTI and TUI engaged in two one-day strikes over the initial proposed reforms, which were watered down significantly after negotiations with Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan.

As well as the two strikes, teachers have boycotted training courses for the new junior cycle programme and have refused to cooperate with planning measures.

The ASTI ballot will take place next month, with a joint-result due to be announced by the union and the TUI on Thursday, September 24th.

The ASTI CEC also agreed to recommend rejection of the Lansdowne Road “pay restoration” deal, affirming an earlier decision of the standing committee.

The TUI has also recommended rejection of the pay deal.

Separate ballots will take place in late September, with a result due in October.