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Statement by Michael Moriarty, General Secretary, ETBI on teacher strike action

“The decision by both second-level teacher unions to strike on December 2nd in protest at Minister O’Sullivan’s amended proposals for Junior Cycle reform is both regrettable and avoidable” says Michael Moriarty, ETBI General Secretary.

“Teacher unions have instigated strike action over proposals which show significant concessions by Minister O’Sullivan.  Nobody wins by forcing schools to close. Students are deprived of tuition, parents are discommoded, and teachers lose a day’s pay.

While I have considerable understanding for the arguments of teachers, the decision to respond with strike action to significant concessions by a Minister is unprecedented in my experience as head of a management representative body for almost two decades.

The opportunity to further engage on a new set of proposals has been ignored. Minister O’Sullivan has moved considerably from the position of her predecessor. In these amended proposals teachers would award up to forty per cent of the marks for Junior Certificate school-based work rather than the original one hundred per cent.

Perhaps teachers are taking this strike action out of frustration.  There are further opportunities for engagement and this should be more than a case of unions versus Ministers.

I am now calling for national talks involving school managers, the National Parents Council, teacher unions and the Department of Education and Skills to address this matter.

The amended package requires the engagement of the key stakeholders. Engagement of these parties in a new talks process, within a short and defined timeframe, is far preferable to one party striking and consequently closing second-level schools. There are other opportunities for protest; equally there are significant opportunities for engagement as I am now proposing”.

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