Teachers action bites

INDUSTRIAL ACTION by teachers in four of the main teaching unions (INTO, NASUWT, ATL and UTU) in pursuit of a 1065 back payment in salary is starting to bite hard.

By Mary Cahillane INTO Executive member

Effectively teachers are on a work to rule-teaching their teaching hours only- and all other bureaucratic initiatives that schools live on have come to a standstill. Open nights, religious ceremonies, bus supervision and parent teacher meetings (all take place outside of school hours) are being hit. Boards of Governors are finding it increasingly difficult to operate.

The next step being discussed before dates are set for strike action is no cover. Teachers would not cover for absent colleagues from day one and, unless substitute cover could be found on that day, pupils would have to be sent home causing major disruption.

Post-primary schools would be hit particularly badly by this because they have a lot of difficulties getting substitute cover at very short notice.

Although the action is solid at the bottom some cracks are beginning to open at among the trade union leadership. The action in most schools is totally uncoordinated with different instructions being issued by the different unions. The INTO and UTU's action is by far the strongest but attempts have been made to water this down by going back to pre and post school supervision of pupils for health and safety purposes.

Teachers are outraged at what they see as this lack of leadership. They are furious at what they see as weak action being watered down and at the lack of unity between the unions.

The message at most of the meetings I attended was clear. Clear instructions-stick to them and either beef the action up or call it off. Most teachers want the action stepped up so that it starts to hurt the Department in a serious manner.

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This article is from the Feb. 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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