Updated: 21/04/17 : 06:12:44
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No school closures as ASTI delegates reject strike action

Sligo parents of exam students will be happy to learn that Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) delegates have rejected a call for strike action, which would have closed schools next month.

A motion calling for strike action was debated at the ASTI Convention in Killarney yesterday.

The motion called for a number of strike days to take place next month to "force the issue on equal pay in the context of the pay talks".

For several hours at the conference, the threat of more school strikes was in the air. It didn't happen because as delegates were not prepared to vote against doing anything that would upset exam candidates a few weeks out from the Leaving and Junior Certs.

Unlike other teachers, ASTI teachers are currently not being paid for classroom supervision, because of their stance outside of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA).

A recent meeting of its executive ASTI heard that almost 450 members had resigned in the first three months of the year, an unusual pattern in a teachers' union.

Some delegates leaving the conference warned that the continuing ASTI policy would see more members leaving the union, because of growing frustration over the strategy being pursued.

A divided ASTI may be of little concern to anyone who is not a member, but such heightened tensions in a teachers' union isn't good for teachers, schools or pupils.

The Public Services Pay Commission, which is deliberating on pay across the sector, is due to report in May, and talks on a successor to the LRA are also due to start.

The LRA was negotiated to reverse pay and pension cuts for public service workers imposed since 2008. It extends the Haddington Road Agreement until 2018.

The union is in dispute with government on a range of issues including equal pay for teachers employed since 2010 and will now re-ballot members in the new school year on industrial action, up to and including strike action, if the issue of pay equality is not "adequately addressed" by then.