Bernie McGrath and Anita Griffin outside Mean Scoil Mhuire earlier today. Photo: Michelle Ghee
Teachers have hit back at critics of their decision to undertake strike action which has forced a number of schools across Longford to close today.
Outside Mean Scoil Mhuire in Longford town, there was discernible anger at the way some critics had attempted to heap blame in the direction of protesting teachers.
Union representative Timmy Carroll said members were united in their support to ensure newly or recently qualified teachers enjoyed the same income levels as their more senior counterparts.
He also rejected claims there was little sympathy for teachers in light of assertions over shorter working hours and lengthy holidays.
"People have been very supportive as have parents who are looking at how they could have kids going into a system three or four years down the line that are paying different rates to people that are already in it.
"Everyone preaches equality but when it comes to practice it seems to be a different matter. Everyone has a decision to make when they go into a profession.
"People could go in and become a doctor or be a consultant and be on €250,000 a year ruling the roost and calling the shots. You make a decision when you are 17,18 or 19 years of age as to what path you want to go down and you live and die by that. Not everybody goes into it for June, July and August."
He was supported in his assessment by fellow union member, Jane Glennon.
"All teachers do a full working week," she said.
"We do a 40 hours plus a week. We have 22 hours class contact time, that's the time spent standing in front of your students. But that doesn't take into account the time taken to prepare lessons, correct tests, meet students and if your a practical teacher you have preparation to do.
"If you are a science teacher you are making up solutions, you are cleaning up afterwards and you are getting things ready in other practical subjects, so the line that teachers work 22 hours a week is totally inaccurate."