Three main unions came together with plans to march from the Dept. of Education to Leinster House for the ‘Valuing Education’ rally. The INTO, TUI and ASTI issued this letter to school stewards all over Leinster to attract numbers for their protest.
TO: SCHOOL STEWARDS IN COUNTIES DUBLIN, LOUTH, MEATH, KILDARE & WICKLOW
10th October 2012
‘Valuing Education” Protest Rally: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday 24th October, Molesworth Street
For the past number of years there has been a sustained attack by Government on education provision. Each year on Budget Day, funding for education is being reduced, teaching jobs are being lost and opportunities for young people are being eroded. December’s budget is looming.
These are the reasons why your union is joining with the INTO and the TUI in a protest rally at Leinster House on Wednesday 24th October. We want to bring home to the Government why further cuts to the education budget will betray young Irish people, further demoralise our profession and undermine our capacity to rebuild our economy.
The protest rally will commence after school at 4:30pm and end at 6:00pm. Members in schools in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow are strongly encouraged to participate in this rally to demonstrate the strength of feeling of Irish teachers about the Government’s plans for further cuts. Given the acute difficulties and cuts faced by newly qualified teachers, we are particularly keen to encourage these members to attend the protest. Cuts in education mean fewer job opportunities for new teachers.
ASTI members along with colleagues from INTO and TUI will be gathering in Molesworth Street opposite Leinster House from 4:30pm. We will have banners and placards ready for members to collect. The government is currently preparing its plans for the budget in December. Protesting now gives us the opportunity to influence this budget debate.
I would like to ask you to join this protest and to encourage ASTI members in your school to attend as well.
cc. Branch Officers and CEC members
This letter and many more like it were posted out to build interest and support for the concerned majority that are strongly opposed to the many issues presently facing educational systems in the country. The last four years have seen major cuts through these, what ASTI President calls, “anti-education budgets”. TUI President Gerry Craughwell stated “We currently have a situation whereby many of our talented, enthusiastic new teachers and lecturers are attempting to survive in part-time positions, with mere fragments of jobs. They are struggling to build a career on incomes which do not provide a basic standard of living. The TUI is here to demand that these teachers have a right to jobs, not just hours”
The starting salary this year for teachers will be up to 34% less than in 2010, according to the unions. The average cut being more than €11,000 yearly. Deputy General Secretary TUI Annette Dolan said that “up to 30 per cent of second level teachers currently work less than full-time hours and this percentage will continue to rise in the next few years”. The main concern by Dolan is that with the current conditions teachers may immigrate to Australia, or anywhere else there is demand. She hopes that the government restores the previous allowances to boost their mediocre income and stop Irish teachers seeking international employment.
On a brighter side, the rally showed a strong bonding of teachers, students, union leaders and representatives and even the general public. The noise of the protest could be heard on Grafton Street, which as you know is usually a nightmare to hear your phone on. The buskers of this particular day were drowned out by chanting students and amplified union speeches on loud speakers. The feeling was highly energetic and motivational. Not a single person hesitated at the chance to air their reactions to the speeches directed at Leinster House.
Some of the more creative of the crowd slightly altered their placards, including the hilarious “Enda can kiss my left one!” with another fellow student carrying the supporting “Enda can kiss my right one!” I think my favourite though, was the well-sported “Does this hoodie belong to anyone?” with the garment attached. The spotty faced teenager lugging it around was probably hoping for a Cinderella moment. I wonder if Prince Charming found what he was looking for.
While you ponder on that, this is the speech from ASTI President Gerry Breslin
The unions saw a healthy turnout and a great protest on the day. If anything it was a great experience for the students and a deafening wakeup call to the Dáil. Let’s hope the upcoming budget yields positive news for Irish Education.