Strike on hold in bitter dispute

6th April 2001 at 01:00

IRISH secondary teachers have suspended industrial action and a ban on exam work, pending a ballot on proposals aimed at ending their bitter dispute with the government over their 30 per cent pay demand.

The proposals fall far short of what was demanded and a close vote is expected in the ballot which will be held at the end of April, after the annual Easter conference of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland.

Teachers have been reassured that that they will get a sympathetic hearing for a pay rise if they go to a new Benchmarking Body set up this year under the national salary agreement. This is a bitter pill for many teachers to swallow as they are opposed to the concept of benchmarking

There is a commitment to payment for covering for absent colleagues and supervision, but the details have to be worked out. Teachers will also be able to get IRpound;350 each per year for computer software and hardware and they will be paid IRpound;1,750 to teach extra classes that were missed because of the strike, so that their pupils can finish their courses.

There is strong opposition to the deal, but no clear alternative strategy.

The strike action was fast becoming counter-productive and leading to massive student protests on the streets with dozens of arrests. The ban on exam work was also being questioned as the government was increasingly confident it could run the exams without the teachers.

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