Taoiseach ‘doesn’t believe’ teachers’ strike will cause disruption

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The Taoiseach has rejected claims that schools will be disrupted after a threat of industrial action by a large cohort of secondary school teachers.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) this week voted in favour of industrial action over school safety during Covid-19 and equal pay.

Micheál Martin said he “doesn’t believe” there will be disruption to schools if strike action goes ahead.

He said Minister for Education Norma Foley had been in ongoing contact with schools and unions with a view to “progressing” the concerns of teachers.

“We all share the same objective,” he said.

“The vast majority of teachers I meet want to continue to teach in schools.”

Earlier this week, members of ASTI voted in favour of industrial action over school safety during the pandemic and equal pay.

The union has called for the Government to put in place comprehensive Covid-19 testing across schools which are due to reopen on Monday following a mid-term break.

Mr Martin said teachers and special needs assistants understood the importance of having children in a learning environment but there was “no doubt” it was challenging for them.

“I think we will be able to look back and say we did the right thing by our children,” he added.

Mr Martin said the reopening of schools had worked well and that the evidence from public health authorities showed that schools are a “safe place to be in”.

He said that critical to addressing schools’ concerns is establishing regular contact with public health authorities.

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Mr Martin added that school teams have been established to create a “stronger integration” and connection between public health and education.

“It’s very, very important that we create good, safe environments for children and teachers because school is very important for the children of the nation,” he said.

“It’s a national priority of ours, to make sure that we can continue to enable children to learn in the school environment through this pandemic because that’s the best way of ensuring their mental wellbeing, their physical wellbeing, but above all their education and personal development needs as well.”



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