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20th Sep 2020

Teachers considering industrial action over Covid-19 safety concerns

James Fenton

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) has said that it will ballot its members for industrial action over Covid-19 safety concerns.

The ASTI met on Saturday and decided to ballot its members in relation to a number of key issues which have emerged since schools began to reopen in late-August.

Among the concerns are physical distancing in schools, the definition of close contacts, testing turnaround times, provisions for high-risk teachers and IT resources to facilitate remote learning. In a statement, ASTI president Ann Piggott said: “The fact that high-risk teachers have been asked to work in crowded classroom is unacceptable to us as a trade union. The safety of students and their teachers must be the priority.”

She added that “it is unthinkable that at a time when teachers have demonstrated tremendous commitment to their students and to keeping education going, that schools would introduce work changes which have a further negative impact on teachers’ working lives. This smacks of crisis opportunism and cannot go unchallenged.”

Secondary schools closed in March of this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Any ballot process is expected to take several weeks.

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