Joining hundreds other Laois ASTI teachers striking today November 8, are Maire Riordan, Geoff Brennan, Cyril Mulligan and Mary Mulhare from St Mary's CBS Portlaoise.
Their posters are being reduced to pulp by the rain today, but hundreds of Laois ASTI teachers are resolutely picketing outside their schools again, to demand equal pay for their young colleagues.
At St Mary’s CBS in Portlaoise, teacher Cyril Mulligan said concerns were high for their exam students.
“Our major concern is our leaving certs and junior certs and the time they are missing, but we are obviously concerned about our younger teachers, that they get equal pay. They’re being asked to give the whole time, to do the supervision and substitution, to do the same as all their colleagues but are on a much lesser rate,” he said.
Agreeing to strike was the “last chance saloon”.
“Unfortunately whether it’s the most effective or not, it’s come to the last chance saloon, we’ve been trying everything to get our colleagues back up to speed. Most of them are finding it difficult to even get to work in the morning, it’s so expensive, to find accommodation in the Portlaoise area is expensive, and we feel we have to do something on their behalf. We’ve tried everything, we negotiated, we waited, we were all promised this would be sorted out in 2014, unfortunately like the guards, you have to be seen to stand up and shout otherwise you’re left at the back of the queue,” Mr Mulligan said.
Marching beside them on the Borris road are Scoil Chríost Rí teachers.
“We’re hopeful that things will come to a conclusion soon, we obviously concerned that it is dragging on. We’re equally concerned for the welfare of the students as well, but the teachers that we are concerned about are the ones who were students only a number of years ago,” said teacher Freda Morcan, who hopes a compromise is reached “before the end of the week, preferably, and we can get back to teaching”.
Sandra Campion is vice principal.
“We can’t lose sight of why we’re here. Those younger teachers that do start on a lower payscale, it’s unfair that they carry out the same duties as their colleagues and they’re not paid equally for it,” she said.
Almost 4,000 Laois students are shut out by the strikes, taking in Coláiste Iosagáin in Portarlington, Knockbeg College, and the Community Schools in Heywood, Mountmellick and Mountrath.
Portlaoise College, St Fergal’s Rathdowney and Clonaslee College have TUI staff and are unaffected.