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Groundhog Day as union rejects supervision

IRELAND

SECONDARY schools are bracing themselves for what has been dubbed "Groundhog Day", when teachers again ban voluntary supervision and covering other classes from next Monday (March 4).

On previous occasions, such action was part of the union's demand for a 30 per cent pay rise. Schools closed and students took to the streets in protest.

But this time it could be different if Government-backed contingency plans work. Schools have been inundated with applications for posts of temporary supervisors from the public. It is not surprising as the money is good compared with other part-time jobs, including part-time teaching.

Every supervisor is guaranteed a minimum daily rate of e68 (pound;42) for two hours' work.

The supervisors will be expected to take over teachers' duties at breaktime and lunchtime and may also have to supervise classes in the event of teacher absences.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland's standing committee voted 10:10 on whether or not to go into talks with education minister Michael Woods - the president Catherine Fitzpatrick used her casting vote to agree to talks.

Half the standing committee voted against the talks on the basis that the wider pay claim had to be dealt with first.

The standing committee then set down its demands. It wants a minimum annual pensionable payment of e2,500, the work to be done within the 22 hours maximum teaching per week, and the money to be made available to retired teachers.

Government sources have made it clear the demands are unacceptable.

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