Second-level teachers vote for industrial action over school safety and pay
ASTI members demand action from Government on number of issues
The ASTI said members had serious concerns about a number of matters following the resumption of teaching
Second level teachers have voted to take industrial action unless the Government immediately addresses a number of concerns regarding Covid-19 in schools.
Members of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) also backed industrial action over lower pay rates in place for more recent entrants to the teaching profession “to be taken in conjunction with one or both of the other teacher unions”.
The union said on Wednesday that the Government needed to put in place a comprehensive testing programme for Covid-19.
It said there should be rapid testing and turnaround times for results as well as the provision of appropriate resources for schools “to ensure continuation of learning where there are school closures/ self-isolation”.
The ballot paper said that the Government should address concerns by Friday, October 30th.
However ASTI members, as part of a series of ballots, rejected proposals for industrial action or strikes in the event of the Department of Education failed to put in place two-metre physical distancing in every classroom or failed to introduce free provision of N95 masks (a respiratory protective device with a very efficient filtration of airborne particles) to all students and teachers;
ASTI president Ann Piggott said: “ASTI members are clearly stating that they want schools to remain open for students during this pandemic. They are demanding that the Government step up and provide 24-hour test turnaround, a redefinition of close contacts for school settings, a comprehensive testing programme, and appropriate arrangements for teachers categorised as ‘high risk’. We must be supported in sustaining education for our children and young people.”
The union said members have given its leadership a mandate to pursue a range of issues. It said these inlcluded the provision of IT resources for students and teachers to facilitate continuity of learning.
ASTI members also decided in a ballot that they will not accept unilateral decisions by some schools to implement changes to working conditions without any consultation with teaching staff.
“Teachers are unwavering in their commitment to providing a quality education and to supporting their students at this stressful and uncertain time,” said Ms Piggott.
“However, the ASTI will not countenance exploitative attempts to introduce unnecessary work changes without consensus which have a further negative impact on teachers’ work and workload. This smacks of crisis opportunism.”
In a separate ballot, ASTI members voted to take industrial action for equal pay for equal work, to be taken in conjunction with one or both of the other teacher unions.
“ASTI members remain absolutely committed to achieving equal pay for teachers who entered the profession from 2010. We will not stop until this abhorrent inequity is removed,” Ms Piggott said.