Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue TD is calling for direct talks between the Education Minister and the teachers unions in a bid to avert 2 one day strikes at thousands of schools across the country. He’s also urging the unions to withdraw the threat of strike action if the talks are facilitated.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The Minister has missed an opportunity to avoid these strikes by refusing to engage with unions ahead of their decision today. Teachers have been understandably frustrated by the negotiation process, and especially by the approach taken by former Minister Ruairi Quinn. His stubborn and confrontational attitude led to a souring of relations between the two sides, and while I believe the revisions made by Minister O’Sullivan to her predecessor’s proposals are workable, she has failed to grasp the extent of the deterioration of relations between the Department and teachers.
“Following the rejection of the latest reform deal earlier this week, the heads of the two main teachers unions wrote to the Minister asking her to intervene directly, but their request was ignored. Her failure to show leadership on this issue and to engage with the unions before a decision on industrial action was taken has undoubtedly impacted on the progress that had been made over the past three months.
“The Minister’s decision to row back on the independent assessment issue is a considerable improvement on what had been on the table before, and the inclusion of a State exam, worth 60% of the overall grade is a much more positive proposal than what had been offered before. This compromise deal was the closest the two sides had come to an agreement in more than three years, but the Minister’s failure to engage with unions this week could put any future arrangement in jeopardy.
“Minister O’Sullivan must build on the progress that has been made and act to prevent these strikes. These actions will cause widespread disruption across the school system, and will affect tens of thousands of secondary students, including those preparing for State exams. A solid basis for further negotiations has been created and I am urging the Minister to reconsider her decision and re-engage with the unions so that this current impasse can be resolved without the need industrial action”.