Teachers to join one-day work stoppage

 

THOUSANDS of schools throughout the State will be forced to close on March 30th after three teachers’ unions voted to join a national work stoppage organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland – representing about 60,000 teachers between them – yesterday voted to join other workers for the one-day work stoppage.

The decision follows last weekend’s vote by members of the unions to support industrial action following the introduction of the Government’s controversial public service pension levy.

The INTO said the decision by its executive committee yesterday to support the strike would close 3,200 primary schools.

INTO general secretary John Carr said everything was “on the table” and he said the unions would also consider a work-to-rule. “Teachers have given the union a very strong mandate to oppose the pay cuts dressed up as a pension levy,” he said.

“This, added to the abandoning of negotiated pay increases, will see some teachers losing up to 20 per cent of salary before any budget changes are imposed next month.”

Mr Carr said for more than 20 years primary teachers had co-operated with change and modernisation “far beyond what was comprehended in national agreements”.

“There is clearly no mood among teachers to continue propping up an underfunded and understaffed education system.”

The ASTI said it was supporting the stoppage to express the anger of members at the “inequitable and unfair way in which the Government is addressing the economic crisis”. “Second-level schools are already reeling from the cutbacks announced in the budget which will mean loss of subjects in schools, larger class sizes, and the loss of up to 1,000 jobs in second-level schools,” it said.

The teachers’ unions will meet next Thursday to discuss co-ordination of their campaigns and the possibility of beginning a work-to-rule. The ASTI also said it would hold a special national conference in May to show solidarity with young teachers in particular.

ASTI represents about 17,000 secondary school teachers, the INTO nearly 30,000 primary teachers and the TUI more than 13,000 teachers and lecturers in the public education sector.