Teachers to strike before general election unless demand for meaningful talks met

By piofficer, Friday, 15th January 2016 | 0 comments

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) members in the second level and further/adult education sectors have voted by a margin of 89% to engage in a campaign of industrial action to secure resolution to crisis issues. Of key concern are the precarious employment status and income poverty of new and recent entrants to the profession and the continuing, damaging effects of cutbacks on the service provided to students.

The Executive Committee of the union today decided that members in these sectors will take a day’s strike action before the general election (on a date yet to be decided) unless the union’s demand for meaningful talks is met.

It was announced earlier this week that TUI members in Institutes of Technology will take a day’s strike action on February 3rd over serious concerns about issues within their sector.

Speaking this morning, TUI President Gerry Quinn said:

‘Following an overwhelming mandate for industrial action from members, TUI’s Executive Committee today decided that unless the union’s demand for talks on a number of crisis issues is met, teachers will take a day’s strike action before the general election.’

Key concerns

Income poverty/casualisation

‘Those who entered the teaching profession from February 2012 have been placed on a severely cut pay scale which sees their starting pay reduced by 21.7% compared to those appointed prior to 2011 (based on contract of full hours). To make matters worse, for several years now, second level teachers have been applying for fractions of jobs with no guarantee of being retained from year to year. Some 30% of second-level teachers are employed on a temporary and/or part-time basis and this proportion grows to 50% for those under 35.

‘As a result of casualisation, students are often taught by a succession of teachers in a given subject area over the course of the Junior or Leaving Certificate cycles. Clearly, this is undesirable.’

‘We are hearing more frequently that it is becoming increasingly difficult for schools to attract new teachers in certain subject areas. Graduates who had intended to undertake a masters in teaching and, increasingly, qualified teachers across a range of subjects are routinely finding better paid and more secure employment in industry.’

Collapse of student support systems

‘Meanwhile, the continuing block on the filling of post of responsibility positions such as year head and cuts to guidance counselling provision  have made it increasingly difficult for schools to support students struggling with aspects of their education or even a personal crisis.’

Deflection from teaching and learning

‘Teacher workload has increased significantly and administrative duties are deflecting teacher time from the core roles of classroom teaching and learning. An online survey of 545 teachers carried out by the union last March showed that 96% of teachers agreed that their workload had increased significantly in recent years. The volume of box-ticking and form-filling duties imposed on teachers has grown exponentially over this time.’

Effects on quality of service to students

‘Despite the current rhetoric about economic recovery, anti-educational cutbacks continue to have a devastating effect on the quality of service to students in terms of larger class sizes, less access to one-to-one attention and less pastoral support.’