VEC and TUI in talks

THE impending teachers’ strike may be called off as both the Laois Branch of the TUI and Laois VEC have agreed to talks on the dispute over teacher transfer agreements.

THE impending teachers’ strike may be called off as both the Laois Branch of the TUI and Laois VEC have agreed to talks on the dispute over teacher transfer agreements.

Speaking to the Leinster Express, the assistant general secretary of the TUI, Ben Bishop, has said that the Laois VEC CEO has made an offer for Labour Relations Commission intervention. “This is an ideal opportunity to engage with the Labour Relations Commission and and the TUI are going to fully engage”.

Mr Bishop said that the CEO made the offer last Wednesday and the branch responded on Thursday. “The branch are fully prepared to take part in talks. The main thing is to resolve this issue so that students are not left without school”, he said. The talks are expected to take place during the week.

The Laois branch of the TUI has welcomed the proposal by the County Loais CEO for agreement on arbitration in the dispute over teacher transfers.

The rolling strike is due to begin on Tuesday November 6 in all schools and centres across the county, and will take place in a single school or centre on each of the following days. The Laois branch of the TUI has said that this is a rolling strike and will roll on beyond the nine specified days. The strike is the result of an unresolved dispute between Laois VEC and Laois TUI members regarding the transfer of two teachers from Portlaoise College earlier this year.

Speaking at the October monthly meeting of Laois VEC, CEO Anne O’ Keefe said that she has been having frequent meetings with the Department of Education, and that she has already travelled to meet the TUI. Ms O’ Keefe added that she has support from the Department of Education and Skills, the IVEA as well as the Laois VEC committee.

“I have done nothing differently this year to any other year. I am not at fault here and I want to state that categorically. It is so wrong what has been said”.

A number of representatives across the county have called for the dispute betweeen the two parties to be settled, including local councillors, parents’ representatives, and Oireachtas members. The dispute has been ongoing for the past two months, with teachers already mounting protests outside the September and October meetings of Laois VEC in Portlaoise.

It affects a number of schools and FEC centres around Laois, including Portlaoise College, Clonaslee College, St Fergal’s.