Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Education, Thomas Byrne TD has reacted with disappointment at the decision of the ASTI to ballot for and recommend industrial action in secondary schools.

Speaking after this afternoon’s decision, Deputy Byrne said, “I have repeatedly stated my concern about the potential for serious industrial unrest in our schools, should the matter of the negotiations for the restoration of allowances for young teachers not be resolved. Dragging these talks to this stage has contributed severely to today’s ASTI announcement.

“It is clear that in principle an agreement effectively exists on the restoration of allowances for newly qualified teachers, and that ongoing negotiations are largely technical details that must be resolved.

“Just last week, I told Minister Bruton that a public statement must be made to confirm that an agreement in principle already exists. This would have provided reassurance for young teachers that serious progress is being made on achieving pay equality. It could also have shown the ASTI that real progress could be made through the Lansdowne Road agreement,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.

“Any ASTI action is not likely to be supported by parents or the general public and would cause unnecessary disruption to students. Meaningful talks are the only way to progress these issues.

“Fine Gael’s shockingly lethargic approach to the issue of young teacher’s pay will only encourage those who prefer industrial action in the ASTI and indeed in other unions.

“The Government are aware of how to promptly and effectively deal with this matter; a signal of clear progress on this crucial issue for teachers would act as a catalyst to reach a resolution and other industrial relations issues within the education sector,” concluded Deputy Byrne.