ASTI members have voted to take industrial action unless the Government immediately addresses key Covid-19 issues in schools. These include the need for a comprehensive testing programme, rapid testing and turnaround, and appropriate resources for schools to ensure continuation of learning where there are school closures/ self-isolation.
ASTI President Ann Piggott said: “ASTI members are clearly stating that they want schools to remain open for students during this pandemic. They are demanding that the Government step up and provide 24-hour test turnaround, a redefinition of close contacts for school settings, a comprehensive testing programme, and appropriate arrangements for teachers categorised as ‘high risk’. We must be supported in sustaining education for our children and young people.”
ASTI members have mandated the union to pursue a range of issues. These include the provision of IT resources for students and teachers to facilitate continuity of learning.
ASTI members also decided that they will not accept unilateral decisions by some schools to implement changes to working conditions without any consultation with teaching staff.
“Teachers are unwavering in their commitment to providing a quality education and to supporting their students at this stressful and uncertain time,” said Ms Piggott. “However, the ASTI will not countenance exploitative attempts to introduce unnecessary work changes without consensus which have a further negative impact on teachers’ work and workload. This smacks of crisis opportunism.”
In a separate ballot, ASTI members voted to take industrial action for equal pay for equal work, to be taken in conjunction with one or both of the other teacher unions. “ASTI members remain absolutely committed to achieving equal pay for teachers who entered the profession from 2010. We will not stop until this abhorrent inequity is removed,” said the ASTI President.
Ballot Paper - 1
Do you vote in favour of authorising ASTI Standing Committee to direct ASTI members not to co-operate with any changes to work practices unless a consensus on the proposed changes is achieved at a staff meeting?
Ballot Paper – 2
Do you vote in favour of authorising ASTI Standing Committee to direct ASTI members not to engage in any changes to work practices unless such changes are time-neutral?
Ballot Paper - 3
Are you willing to take industrial action up to and including strike action, as directed by ASTI Standing Committee, in the event that the DES either directly — or indirectly through the HSE or its agencies — fails, by 30th October 2020, to put in place the following measures?
a) Physical distancing of two metres in every classroom;
b) Free provision of N95 masks to all students and teachers;
c) Redefinition of a close contact as any person who has spent more than 15 minutes in a classroom with a positive Covid-19 case;
d) A serial testing programme for schools;
e) Guaranteed test turnaround times of 24 hours;
f) Equal pay for post-2010 teachers;
g) Guaranteed offer of a permanent contract, on full hours, for any teacher who returns to the system, either from Ireland or abroad;
h) Provision for any teacher in the high-risk category to either teach from home or have guaranteed reasonable accommodations made in school;
i) Free provision of laptops, procured centrally rather than by means of grants to schools, for students and teachers to ensure that learning can continue as much as possible if classes are required to self-isolate, or schools required to close due to Covid-19.
Ballot Paper - 4
Are you willing to take industrial action, up to and including strike action, for equal pay for equal work, to be taken in conjunction with one or both of the other teacher unions and as directed by ASTI Standing Committee?