Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien believes Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has adopted a “reckless approach” in the way he has attempted to resolve the on-going industrial dispute with the ASTI over the Haddington Road Agreement.
The Cork North Central TD said the possibility of all-out strike action by teachers, should it happen, could be attributed in no small part to the threats that were being made by the Department of Education (DES) including the discontinuing of the Substitution and Supervision (S&S) allowance.
He continued: “Minister Quinn and his Department officials are attempting to bully and coherse the ASTI into accepting the Haddington Road Agreement and this reckless approach is not only counterproductive - it is likely to lead to an escalation of the dispute that could result in strike action by teachers in the New Year.
“This is in no one’s interests, least of all the young people whose education will be badly affected by this type of disruption.
“Successive cuts in teacher’s pay and allowances have resulted in a demoralised profession and an erosion of the goodwill that is so essential to the learning environment in school classrooms.
“Yet despite this, Minister Quinn has been belligerent in his dealings with the ASTI.
“As recently as last week the Minister, in a reply to my Parliamentary Question, stated that until the ASTI agree to the terms of Haddington Road there would be no engagement with the teachers union to exam the concerns they have around Junior Cert Cycle reform.
“This is simply unacceptable as the priority has to be in ensuring the radical changes to the Junior Cert are deliverable and this means addressing the very genuine concerns of the ASTI and their membership who are absolutely essential in delivering the new curriculum.
“Instead of trying to humiliate the ASTI and its membership, Minster Quinn needs to seriously engage with teachers and do all within his power to address their grievances.”