Second-level teachers to stage one-day strike before election

Lecturers in institutes of technology to also engage in work stoppages early next month

 Areas of concern identified by the TUI include income poverty for teachers and casualisation. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Areas of concern identified by the TUI include income poverty for teachers and casualisation. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Second level teachers are planning to stage a one-day strike prior to the forthcoming general election.

The move could affect students in about 350 schools across the country, mainly in the vocational, community and comprehensive sectors.

The executive of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) decided on Friday to stage a one-day strike after members voted by a margin of 89 per cent in favour of industrial action.

The date of the planned strike has not yet been determined .

The union said on Friday that the the stoppage in second level schools would go ahead unless its demand for “meaningful talks” are areas of significant concern was met.

Lecturers in institutes of technology, who are also represented by the TUI, are separately planning to stage a one-day strike on February 3rd over serious concerns about issues within their sector.

The areas of concern identified by the TUI include income poverty for teachers, casualisation,what it described as a collapse of student support systems as well as greater bureaucracy in the education sector.

TUI president Gerry Quinn said: “Following an overwhelming mandate for industrial action from members, TUI’s executive committee today decided that unless the union’s demand for talks on a number of crisis issues is met, teachers will take a day’s strike action before the general election.”

The Department of Education said it was open to engaging with the TUI “on issues of mutual concern in the context of their continuing co-operation with collective agreements”.

It said an increase of more than €200 million in the education budget had allowed for a cut in the pupil teacher ratio at primary level and second-level, the employment of approximately 3000 more teachers, and the enhancement of school leadership.

The Department of Education said it was also currently implementing reforms to tackle casualisation in the teacher profession on foot of a report last year by an expert group.

The TUI said that those who entered the teaching profession from February 2012 had been placed on a severely reduced scale which meant their starting salary declined by 21.7 per cent compared to those appointed prior to 2011 (based on contract of full hours).

“To make matters worse, for several years now, second-level teachers have been applying for fractions of jobs with no guarantee of being retained from year to year. Some 30 per cent of second-level teachers are employed on a temporary and/or part-time basis and this proportion grows to 50 per cent for those under 35.

“As a result of casualisation, students are often taught by a succession of teachers in a given subject area over the course of the Junior or Leaving Certificate cycles. Clearly, this is undesirable.”

The TUI also said it was being reported to it that it is becoming increasingly difficult for schools to attract new teachers in certain subject areas.