Teachers strike over appointment


MEMBERS of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland began the first in a series of one-day strikes at the Sacred Heart School in Drogheda. The dispute, which began last year, relates to the appointment of a vice-principal to the school, which has around 250 girl pupils.

The ASTI says the appointment was appealed by a member at the school, and arbitration found in favour of the appellant. "The finding is final and binding," said a union spokesman.

"We have consistently asked that the arbitration findings be implemented and have met the trustees, the school board and the school management representative body. There is a national agreement covering appeals which provides for parties to accept and implement the findings," he said.

However, a board of management spokeswoman said it had sole responsibility for management appointments and procedures. "Arbitration can decide something was done incorrectly, but it cannot select a candidate, she said, as such appointments were made by selection interview and assessment. The successful candidate was employed as vice principal last August.

The spokeswoman said the board was willing to be involved in discussions. Mr Patrick Clarke, a parents' representative on the eight-member board, said he was "disappointed and very concerned as I have a daughter in Junior Certificate year and it is upsetting the preparation for her exams". He wanted it "resolved as soon as possible" and hoped "the ASTI might find a different way of carrying on the argument, without bringing the children in.

The teachers picketed the school yesterday and said they would repeat their action every week. The union has invited parents to a meeting in the Boyne Valley Hotel, Drogheda, tomorrow evening.