ETBI PR – Statement by General Secretary on ASTI Strike & School Closures
The ASTI industrial action today closes 43 dual-union ETB schools, on health and safety grounds. The remaining 235 ETB schools staffed by members of the TUI, who are covered by the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA), will continue to operate as normal.
It is regrettable that the affected schools are not in a position to accept pupils. ETBs want the best educational opportunities for their students and these are jeopardised by today’s strike and the threat of significant school closures in the upcoming months. Prolonged industrial action will damage the quality of educational provision in all affected schools, and the real losers are our students.
This dispute has become a battle of wills between the ASTI and the government, with the ASTI seeking to secure concessions outside the LRA. Under the provisions of the LRA, the government is engaged in negotiations on the same issues with the other teacher unions, and significant progress has already been made.
We seem to be a long way from the teacher unions’ unity agenda which was an oft-stated objective up to a decade ago.
The key questions is whether the ASTI can bring the government to heel, and whether the government can risk undermining the LRA process. This is the issue at the core of this dispute and could point to a long-drawn-out struggle, with consequential impacts on affected schools and students.
ETBI is most concerned about the effect that a protracted campaign of industrial unrest will have on the morale of all teachers and all students, in all school sectors.