With the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) ballot on equal pay, conditions and Covid measures due to close this Thursday, ASTI member Mark Walshe (personal capacity) calls for an emphatic Yes vote.
ASTI members are currently balloting on several issues. Prior to the lockdown in March, ASTI had decided to ballot for industrial action for equal pay, following the Teachers Union of Ireland decision to go ahead with their strike day just ahead of the General Election. This ballot had to be abandoned when the lockdown happened and is now being re-run as a part of a package of four ballot papers.
Two further ballot papers seek to protect teachers from changes in work practices at local school level which impose extra time demands and/or are not agreed by consensus at staff meetings. Unfortunately, the initiative-overload imposed since the previous crisis in 2008 has created a culture in some schools of by-passing democratic structures, which has accelerated since the onset of the current Covid crisis.
The fourth ballot paper sets out a series of demands for measures to make schools Covid-safe given the inadequacies of the Department of Education’s school reopening plan. In this case, members are given the chance to vote on each individual measure, including 2-meter distance, centrally funded laptops for students to prepare for future lockdowns, N95 masks, etc.
Since the decision to ballot, the Covid situation has gotten completely out of control and yet the Department of Education is still taking what the INTO described as an ‘absolutist’ approach to keeping schools open even at Level 5.
Vote Yes to protect education
Given all of these circumstances, it is vital that members have some control and are in a position to take various forms of industrial action, which may include strike action, in order to be able to protect teachers, students and the wider school community in the face of the inadequacies or failures of the Department of Education.
We therefore encourage all activists to mobilise all members for a Yes vote to all ballot papers before the deadline of next Thursday, 22nd October.