THE teachers’ strike, due to take place in VEC schools and centres around Laois from today, has been deferred. The Laois branch of the TUI and Laois VEC are entering into talks this week.
The Laois branch has agreed to the request by the Labour Relations’ Commission to defer strike action. In a statement to the Leinster Epress, the Laois branch said that they agreed to this deferral in the interests of students and parents.
The branch said that they received confirmation yesterday, Monday November 5, that the County Laois CEO had agreed to enter a process under the auspices of the Labour Relations’ Commission. This is in order to examine the application of Paragraph 6 of the TUI/IVEA Teacher Transfer Agreement with a view to resolving the dispute as soon as possible.
The Labour Relations’ Commission will meet with both the TUI and Laois VEC tomorrow, Wednesday November 7. “The County Laois Branch is hopeful that this dispute which began last May will now finally be resolved”, said chairperson Mary Higgins.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, chairperson of the Laois VEC committee, Councillor Mary Sweeney said that it was a great relief that students would not be affected by the strike.
“As chairperson of the committee, I am very pleased to hear that the strike has been deffered. A meeting has been arranged for this week and the Department of Education and the IVEA have been proactively involved with Laois VEC. I am hoping for a successful conclusion for everyone concerned”.
Charlie Flanagan TD said that he welcomes the deferral of industrial action.
“I wish all parties well in their talks towards a resolution”.
All Oireachtas members from Laois including Deputy Flanagan, Brian Stanley TD, Sean Fleming TD and Senator John Whelan have being calling for a resolution to the dispute for the past number of weeks.
The dispute emerged during the summer between Laois TUI members and Laois VEC CEO Anne O’ Keefe over the transfer of two teachers from Portlaoise College to other centres.
A Business Studies teacher with 19 years’ service in Portlaoise College was asked to transfer for 11.5 hours to Portlaoise Prison Education Unit while an English teacher with eight years’ service was asked to transfer to Portarlington FEC.
The issue was brought to the Labour Relations Commission in August where according to the TUI, the LRC found against Laois VEC, for “failing to implement a national TUI/IVEA Teacher Transfer Agreement when it transferred the two teachers”.
Members of the Laois branch of the TUI have already protested at two monthly VEC meetings in Portlaoise, in September and October, before balloting for strike action.
Centres that would have been affected by the strike will include St Fergal’s College in Rathdowney, Portlaoise College, Clonaslee College, the two prison education units in Portlaoise, Abbeyleix FEC, Portarlington FEC and Mountmellick Youthreach.