Schools face closure as secondary teachers threaten to strike in pay row
More than 500 schools are facing closure after secondary teachers threatened to strike in a long-running row over pay.
The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) voted for industrial action in the increasingly bitter row over their refusal to back public sector wage restoration deals and also over the reduced pay rates for newly qualified colleagues.
ASTI president Ed Byrne said the results demonstrate the depth of feeling amongst second-level teachers and warned they had endured years of pay cuts and deteriorating terms and conditions.
"Teachers do not embark on industrial action lightly and strike action is always a very last resort," he said.
The row centres on the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement and the reduced pay rates for newly qualified teachers.
ASTI said 80% of its members voted for a strike over the lower wages for recent graduates and 78% of those who voted were in favour of industrial action, including stopping supervision and substitution work, over penalties for refusing to back the pay deal.
Mr Byrne said: "New and recently qualified teachers are not only faced with years of casual short-term contracts, but an inferior rate of pay for doing the exact same work as their colleagues.
"An ASTI teacher starting in 2016 is being paid 20% below the 2010 starting salary.
"Today's ballot result demonstrates the sense of injustice amongst teachers at this treatment of new and recently qualified colleagues. It shows that teachers at all stages of their careers are prepared to act in a collegiate spirit and stand up for the most vulnerable teachers in their schools."
ASTI members rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement last year.
As a result of that, and their refusal to fulfil additional hours under the terms of the Croke Park Agreement, the Department of Education stopped paying their supervision and substitution work.
Mr Byrne said: "It is now the case that members of the ASTI are engaging in supervision and substitution work for no pay while their colleagues who are members of other unions receive payment.
"This is because ASTI members voted in a democratic ballot to reject the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.
"Today's ballot result - in which 78% of ASTI members voted in favour of withdrawal from supervision and substitution work - is a strong message to the Government that this treatment of teachers is unacceptable."
Education Minister Richard Bruton said he was disappointed with the decision.
A spokeswoman said he had repeatedly urged talks "in the best interests of schools, parents, students and teachers".
Mr Bruton also said he was willing to give ASTI members the same deal other teachers' unions have got on pay restoration for newly-qualified staff.