ASTI members outside Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon this morning.
‘Equal pay for equal work’ was the rally cry of teachers outside Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon this morning as members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) across county Longford strike in pursuit of equal pay for newly-qualified teachers.
Motorists passing the closed school gates beeped their horns in support of the striking teachers, with today’s action being the first in a potential series of seven days of strike action on the issue.
Flanked by her colleagues, Dolores McManus from Mercy Ballymahon outlined the reasons why ASTI members were on the picket line.
“This is about ‘equal pay for equal work’ and to support our younger colleagues who started out since 2011. They are doing the same work as us, so they should be getting the same pay.”
Ms McManus believes some middle ground needs to be found between the ASTI and Government to resolve the issue.
“The Government are going to have to back down some way. There has to be some middle ground found with the ASTI and they don’t seem to be prepared. Government are saying the only show in town at the moment is Lansdowne Road and we have said no to Lansdowne Road so I don’t know where we are going to find middle ground to resolve this to be honest.”
The teachers at Mercy Ballymahon said they were very sympathetic towards parents and students for the disruption caused by the strike.
Ms McManus added, “Today is only a one-day strike and we are really hoping that it will be resolved as soon as possible and that maybe it will be resolved during the mid-term break. But the government has to meet the ASTI half way for it to be resolved.
"They have to find some middle ground between them and basically they are saying the only show in town is Lansdowne Road. Yet this morning I heard on the news that they have offered a pay rise to the Gardaí and they are trying to say it is not in breach of Lansdowne Road.”
With further potential strike days planned, Ms McManus concluded, “We would hope that there would be a resolution but we are left with no choice. We have to support our younger colleagues.
"It is so, so unfair what the government have done. We have to get out there and support them.”