Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue TD has called on the Education Minister to intervene to prevent widespread strike action by second-level teachers. Members of the TUI and ASTI are threatening one-day strikes after rejecting the latest proposals on Junior Cert reform.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Teachers are understandably frustrated by the situation, which has been dragging on for more than two years. Former Minister Ruairi Quinn mishandled the negotiations from the outset by publishing the initial reform proposals without consultation. His dictatorial and obstinate approach soured relations with the unions and made for a fraught negotiations process.
“Minister O’Sullivan must recognise the fractious environment her predecessor created, and must continue to engage with union leaders to address their outstanding concerns and prevent strike action. There is a very real fear that unless the Minister intervenes directly the unions may vote to act on their mandate to strike before Christmas. This must be avoided.
“I am urging Minister O’Sullivan to act without delay, and ensure that relations between her department and teachers are improved. Her u-turn on the issue of independent assessment provides a strong platform for which to develop a reformed Junior Certificate that will serve students well, however it is essential that the teachers unions remain engaged in the process.
“I very much welcome the Minister’s decision to significantly change the original reform proposals. Fianna Fáil consistently advocated the need for a reformed Junior Cert that would retain independent assessment as well as a state exam, and the latest plan will substantially deliver on this. I believe there is a real opportunity to secure agreement on these proposals, but only if teachers are afforded time to consider them and discuss them further with the Minister. It is imperative that Minister O’Sullivan reaches out to and meets with teachers unions, as they have requested, and does not allow relations between them to deteriorate further.
“Teachers unions are due to meet again tomorrow to discuss the possibility of industrial action. The Minister must step up to the mark and lead on this issue by inviting the unions to further talks to stave off this threatened strike. This current stagnation is the result of the Government’s complete mismanagement of this process from the outset. Minister O’Sullivan needs to act swiftly to remedy the mistakes of the past and prevent any further fallout”.