ASTI ballot over redundancies
Sir, – As has been widely reported, the ASTI, of which I am a member, is to ballot teachers in the coming weeks on industrial action should any of its members be made redundant as a result of losing the protection of the Haddington Road Agreement regarding redeployment (“ASTI to ballot teachers over potential redundancies”, April 2nd). While there are many outstanding issues in the current dispute between the union and the Government, there is a very strong need for calm heads to prevail in what is now a very volatile matter.
Many have pointed out, including sometimes isolated voices within the ASTI’s ranks, that one cannot expect the protection of an agreement to which one has not signed up. However, for the Department of Education to go so far as to sanction redundancy for ASTI members would be an act utterly devoid of common sense and potentially most detrimental to the interests of students at this critical point in the school year.
It is generally accepted that the number of teachers who would ultimately face redeployment – or in this case redundancy – this year will be low compared to previous years. The efficient operation of the redeployment scheme for surplus teachers since its inception in 2011 has dealt with local bottlenecks successfully. Some even suggest that the number of teachers affected could be in the very low tens – perhaps your publication could attempt to elicit the current figure from the Department of Eduacation. Budget 2017 calls for the recruitment of an additional 1,400 post-primary teachers this summer. It is manifestly obvious therefore that there is no need to make any teacher redundant this year, solely as a result of their membership of a trade union, and in an act that could not be characterised as other than vindictive.
The sensible course of action is to either operate the redeployment scheme as normal in 2017 or to suspend it temporarily. Doing so would acknowledge the reality that more teachers and not fewer are required in our post-primary schools and also display an understanding that a tiny number of ordinary teachers do not deserve to be scapegoated as part of a national dispute. Of course, it would also remove the threat, however small, of disruption in schools before the summer which no responsible government should countenance. – Yours, etc,