Secondary teachers defend 90-minute picket decision


SECONDARY TEACHERS have defended their decision to mount only a 90-minute picket next Tuesday – even though schools will be closed for the full day.

Most other unions are planning a day-long picket on Tuesday in support of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions one-day stoppage.

But picketing duties for most members of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) will be completed by 10am next Tuesday. Its website advises members the picket will be from 8.30am until 10am outside the main school entrance.

Last night the National Parents’ Council (post primary) expressed its dismay with the short ASTI picket. Its spokeswoman, Rose Tully said the strike would be hugely inconvenient for parents. If they were on strike, they should be properly on strike, she said, adding there should be no half measures. But John White, ASTI general secretary said the duration of a picket was a side-issue. Teachers were forgoing a full day’s pay, he said.

The other teacher unions are planning longer picketing times on Tuesday.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has warned members that next Tuesday is “not a day off’’ and the union will be organising picket duty rosters which will operate until mid-afternoon.

The Iirish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) said it was mounting day-long pickets on all 13 Department of Education offices throughout the country until 5pm on Tuesday.

The ASTI directive tells members that next Tuesday is a full day’s strike action, irrespective of the duration of the picket. If schools wish to picket all day they are free to do so.

Last night, John White, ASTI general secretary dismissed suggestions that most ASTI members would be enjoying a day off. The whole purpose of a picket was to persuade people not to attend a workplace.

Teachers would report as normal to their workplace and the picket would make a judgment about support for the action, he said.

Next Tuesday’s industrial action will cost the State’s 50,000 teachers about €10.3 million in pay.

Ms Tully said the strike action would be hugely inconvenient for those fortunate enough to have employment.

It will force working parents to find childcare at huge additional expense and it will mean a loss of income for those running school transport and other school services. Many parents will have no option but to take the day off, she said.

The three teachers’ unions endorsed the call for strike action by an overwhelming majority in separate ballots last week.