Industrial action in schools ‘inevitable’, says teachers’ union

Asti chief says teachers are being asked to ‘collude in the downgrading of education’

ASTI members are currently balloting on proposals for industrial action over the issue of pay for recently-recruited teachers and the salary cuts of recent years.

ASTI members are currently balloting on proposals for industrial action over the issue of pay for recently-recruited teachers and the salary cuts of recent years.

 

Industrial action in second-level schools is the inevitable consequence of the constant downgrading of the terms and conditions of teachers over an eight year period, the president of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) has said.

Ed Byrne said that teachers who entered the profession since 2012 were earning 20 per cent less than the 2010 starting salary.

He said new teachers were paid below the OECD average despite the relatively high cost of living in Ireland and that, in addition most new teachers spent a number of years in part-time positions earning a fraction of their fulltime salary.

“I’m meeting teachers in their 20s and 30s who are struggling to make ends meet. These teachers have five to six years of training behind them, a master’s qualification, and they can’t earn a decent living.”

Mr Byrne said the union believed these issues could and should be resolved through dialogue.

However. he said that recent Government measures such as the worsening of ASTI members’ terms and conditions “are extremely unhelpful in this context”.

ASTI members are currently balloting on proposals for industrial action over the issue of pay for recently-recruited teachers, and on the worsening of pay and conditions under financial emergency legislation invoked by the Government.

Members of the ASTI have forfeited incremental pay rises due since July and will not receive additional money scheduled to be paid from September for carrying out supervision and substitution duties as the Government believed the union had repudiated the Lansdowne Road agreement on public service pay

If ASTI members back industrial action in the ballot, it could lead to the closure of hundreds of second level schools in the weeks ahead.

Speaking at a conference of school principals in Athlone on Wednesday Mr Byrne said: “Multiple cuts to teachers’ pay, teacher numbers, school funding, posts of responsibility, and resources for students coincided with the implementation of multiple new initiatives such as the literacy and numeracy strategy, the framework for junior cycle, the wellbeing in post primary schools initiative and new inspection processes.

“We were asked to do much more with much less for the sake of saving the economy. That crisis is over. To ask teachers to continue to sign up to cuts to vital student services, deteriorated terms and conditions, and significantly inferior pay scales for recently qualified teachers, is asking them to collude in the downgrading of public education and teaching in Ireland.”