Laois teachers on the picket line today

ASTI teachers marching outside Scoil Chriost Ri and St Mary's CBS in Portlaoise to demand equal pay.

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan


Strike action continues today, as talks drag on over the dispute over the ASTI teachers' pay deal

As the ASTI teachers pay dispute continues, so will their students’ extended Halloween break this week.

ASTI teachers' end to doing unpaid supervision or substitution, has left school managements no option but to stay closed on health and safety grounds, unless they had recruited external supervisers in time.

In Laois, the schools understood to stay closed include Scoil Chriost Ri and St Mary's CBS in Portlaoise, Heywood CS, Coláiste Iosagáin and Knockbeg College.

In Laois, Mountrath and Mountmellick schools will open as normal tomorrow, with Mountmellick principal Larry Curtin clarifying that external non-union, previously vetted supervisors have been taken on by the board of management to fill the gap.

Other Laois schools without ASTI staff are unaffected, namely Portlaoise College, St Fergal’s Rathdowney and Clonaslee College.

Local ASTI rep Eamon Dennehy however said boards of management should not be expecting people to work for nothing.

"Several ASTI schools were open yesterday and will be open tomorrow, because they are actively putting contingency plans in place. A board of management of a school is supposed to manage, and not expect people to work for nothing," he said.

“Hopeful an agreement is imminent. There is some flickers of hope with regard to flexibility, but those deals have been in place for a long time, nobody said anything about flexibility until now, which perhaps makes the point that our action has at least brought attention to a fairly serious grievance we have regarding equal pay," he said.

He believes their action will work.

"It has succeeded a fair amount already. The solidarity of the ASTI is clear at this stage. Younger teachers are very impressed by the support we’re giving them. There are offers on the table but why can’t we have equality, and a timescale to say when the pay scales will be the same. Everything will end with talks," he said.

He said teachers will ensure their students will not suffer.

"The teachers will do everything in their power to prevent them losing out in any way, and the students themselves know this from their teachers, I’m sure," he said.

Those students will be marked alongside others who have not missed school.

"We have to look at that because that is unfair. It is only affecting a certain section, has to be considered as well," said the ASTI rep.