'Anger is palpable' – teachers set to ballot as row over vaccine spirals

91

Furious teachers are likely to ballot for industrial action unless the Government reverses the decision to push them down the vaccine list.

ast week’s decision has catapulted vaccinations onto the agendas of the annual conferences of the three teacher unions, which start tomorrow.

It guarantees an angry reception for Education Minister Norma Foley at her first Easter conventions.

Leaders of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) and Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) are preparing motions for discussion.

The unions may agree a common motion, or they may opt to debate different motions, but ultimately, the conferences are likely to seek support for ballots for some form of industrial action.

Union sources would not speculate on the final wording of a motion, or motions, to be debated. But there seems no doubt but that ballots on industrial action are in prospect if the decision is not reversed.

Depending on what’s agreed, potentially it could mean a strike, for one or more days.

There is no threat to the scheduled re-opening of schools for all pupils next Monday, April, 12, but mounting anger could see disruption later in the term.

Ms Foley will address the INTO conference tomorrow morning and will speak to TUI delegates on Wednesday. The ASTI did not invite the minster to its conference.

There has been mounting anger among teachers since the Cabinet last week agreed to change the national vaccination programme to an age-based system.

Vaccines will be distributed by descending age group once jabs have been given to those aged 70 and over, and people considered vulnerable and with those with underlying conditions.

Teachers, particularly those aged in their 20s and 30s, feel they have been pushed far down the priority list.

Depending on the roll-out, which has already been subject to some delays, younger teachers fear it could be well into the autumn or even winter before they are vaccinated.

ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie said “anger is so palpable that there will be a strong mandate to secure a reversal of the decision and reinstatement of teachers to a priority category”.

Online Editors

Source: Irish News