The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has decided to withdraw from supervision and substitution duties as of Monday November 7 and is striking for 7 days to protest recently qualified teachers pay. This action has resulted in the closure of roughly 400 secondary schools on health and safety grounds.
ASTI teachers are also withdrawing from supervision and substitution work on the same day they will strike for an increase in recently qualified teachers pay, but will be available for core teaching and teaching-related duties.
ASTI said in a statement released on Sunday night that its members are available to work and are being ‘locked out’ of schools. The industrial action follows the withdrawal of payment in recognition of supervision and substitution work from ASTI members, while other teachers who are not members of ASTI are receiving payment.
ASTI teachers, members of one of two teachers unions in Ireland, will not receive pay in schools which fail to open. However, teachers will receive pay if they sign an agreement stating they are available to work supervision and substitution duties.
ASTI president Ed Byrne said: “It was always inevitable that deducting pay from ASTI teachers for supervision and substitution work would lead to a withdrawal from this work. We made this clear to the department as early as July of this year. Teachers received a commitment under the Haddington Road Agreement that this money would be paid. We delivered on all aspects of the Haddington Road Agreement.” On the announcement of the vote in favour of industrial action, he said: “The Department’s decision to pursue this course of action is extremely problematic in terms of resolving this dispute.”
Speaking to RTE’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Burton, said “It is beggars belief that the ASTI would decide to close schools indefinitely about their decision to refuse to work one hour per week over the 33 weeks that they work.”
Addressing the issue of unequal pay for recently qualified teachers, Byrne said: “Recently qualified teachers spend five to six years training, including obtaining the required Masters qualification for teaching at second-level. They are then expected to teach alongside colleagues who have completely different pay arrangements for their entire careers. The sense of injustice amongst all teachers is palpable. ASTI members are committed to achieving equal pay for equal work for all teachers.”