Updated: 28/10/16 : 06:56:00
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Schools could now face indefinite closure

Many ASTI members on picket line duty yesterday in Sligo were unsure if they will be returning to work after the forthcoming mid-term break.

They did however warn they will continue with their industrial action, up to and including an all-out strike until equality of all teachers is achieved.

Nine schools in Sligo were closed yesterday which saw 281 ASTI teachers take to the picket lines.

In neighbouring counties Leitrim and Donegal, six and seven secondary schools were closed respectively because of the one day strike.

Teachers speaking to Sligo Today believed that they had the full support of their students and parents.

The president of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), Ed Byrne, has acknowledged that it is “unlikely” the union will secure an agreement in time to avert the indefinite closure of hundreds of schools following the midterm break.

Little Sign of Progress

ASTI is planning to withdraw supervision and substitution cover from Monday, November 7th, which would force many schools to close on health and safety grounds.

There has, up to now, been little sign of any progress on the union’s key grievances, which include pay rates for new entrants, additional working hours and junior cycle reform.

In Ballymote, teachers at Colaiste Mhuire were determined to continue to fight to improve new colleagues' inadequate pay scales. One newly qualified teacher told Sligo Today that she takes home less than €165 per fortnight.

The ASTI president said he was “flying a kite” by suggesting in a live media interview yesterday that union members could be willing to work supervision duties in return for a concession on job security for young teachers.

A spokesman for Minister for Education Richard Bruton said it would not be appropriate to respond to an “informal personal suggestion”. Privately, sources said that any such proposal would not be taken seriously, on the basis that it would provide permanent benefits in return for a temporary agreement on supervision cover.

Schools, meanwhile, are due to reopen as normal this morning, Friday.