Almost 60% of secondary schools closed over ASTI action
Almost 60% of secondary schools will be closed today as members of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland withdraw from the supervision of students during break times.
Most of the schools affected are in the religious-run sector where ASTI membership is concentrated.
A small number of schools in other sectors will also close due to health and safety grounds.
However, the ASTI says its members are available for normal teaching duties.
School management bodies have urged both sides to come to a resolution for the sake of the thousands of students and families who will be affected.
ASTI teachers insist they are not on strike, just withdrawing from supervision duties.
But school management bodies say schools are being forced to close as a result, on health and safety grounds.
Some schools with ASTI staff have managed to open – paying Special Needs Assistants and others to fill in.
A very small number are opening partially – for exam students only.
But schools say the union’s decision not to allow ASTI school principals work to set up alternative plans has hampered such efforts.
ASTI teachers whose schools are closed will not be paid.
When these schools will be able to open again is unknown
Talks between the ASTI and the Department of Education are continuing but there has been no progress to date.
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton said the ASTI must comply with working one extra hour per week, if they want to be paid for supervision and substitution.
Mr Bruton said that hour is something every public servant works, and many work more than one hour.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said that the ASTI are trying to re-write the entire approach to public pay in this dispute.
However, he said, if teachers agree to work that one hour a week, it would trigger immediate positive gains for ASTI members.
Speaking on the same programme, President of the ASTI Ed Byrne said that there is no sign of the dispute being resolved.
Mr Byrne said that one size fits all is not always the best way and this was highlighted by the deal reached with gardaí.
He said that if there was a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, then it would be seriously considered.
On Today with Sean O’Rourke, ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie said there was adequate time for the Minister for Education to put plans in place to cover supervision and substitution hours that are not being covered by ASTI teachers.
“The prospect of this action has been around for months so there was more than adquate time available for the Minister to put a workable contingency plan in place. There are schools open today whose principals are ASTI members. I’m aware of eight,” he said.
Meanwhile, a professor of industrial relations at UCD has said that Lansdowne Road Agreement on public sector pay is now effectively “a dead letter”.
Bill Roche said one union after another is claiming that they are under pressure from members to try to win concessions that have been won by gardaí.
He added that the current situation needs to be seriously addressed or there could be “chaos throughout the public service.”