Updated: 07/11/16 : 05:50:14
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Students locked out of secondary schools...indefinitely

Sligo parents of students attending nine secondary schools in the County face total uncertainty this morning as last minute crisis talks failed to resolve the ASTI teachers' pay dispute resulting in students being locked out of their schools from this morning...indefinitely.

Across Ireland over 200,000 teenage pupils are affected as the second-level education system is brought to its knees by the teachers.

With no sign of a breakthrough in the row involving the 17,500-strong Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), parents and students in about 400 schools have no idea when schools will reopen.

The disruption comes as tensions rise within Government over whether to accept in full a Labour Court recommendation to give special pay increases to gardaí.

ASTI’s decision to withdraw from supervision and substitution duties from today will result in the closure of about 400 schools on health and safety grounds.

ASTI teachers in schools which fail to open will not be paid. However, in a move likely to cause division, teachers will receive payment if they sign a circular stating that they are available to work supervision and substitution duties.

Confusion

Confusion will be compounded tomorrow, Tuesday, when even more second-level schools - about 500 - will be shut by a separate one-day strike by ASTI.

A small number of schools which are due to open will cater to exam-years students only – third and sixth-years – though management bodies say this is likely to be a short-term measure.

Education Minister Richards Bruton said he was "very disappointed" that ASTI has decided to proceed with its action, which would "cause huge disruption to students, and their parents, with particular stress caused for those in exam years".

The minister added, “ASTI have effectively decided to close hundreds of schools indefinitely, as a result of a dispute which essentially relates to one hour a week of additional duties.”

ASTI has told its members to turn up for work today and, if the school is closed, to remain until the end of the first class period.

At this time, there is nothing to suggest that the schools will be in a position to reopen before the end of this week.