A Secondary School Teacher Has Shared This Shocking Message About The Strikes

"I'm not on strike today. No teachers are."

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Today is the second day teachers around Ireland are striking for equal pay and treatment – which the majority of us folk wholeheartedly agree they deserve.  

And secondary school teacher Donna Marie Leacy took to Facebook to clear the air posting what could be the most clarifying statement we've seen during this storm of dispute. 

She posted the following message on Facebook yesterday morning along with a photo of her empty classroom:

"This is a picture of my classroom. Right now I should have 30 Leaving Cert. English students in front of me. But they're not here, because they can't come to school. And how did I take this picture of my classroom? Did I cross the picket? No. Because I'm not on strike today. No teachers are. Across the country teachers are sitting in their classrooms ready and more than willing to teach but because of the government's action students could not come to school on health and safety grounds. The teachers did not, as Enda Kenny said, close the schools. The government did through their inaction. I find it disheartening how the government and many media outlets are misinforming the public."

Donna Marie Leacy
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"Many people I talk to are unsure of what is really going on. So here's a quick little run down: 

There are two main issues in dispute: S&S and LPT pay. But what do these acronyms even mean?

‘S&S’ means supervision and substitution. This is supervising students before school, during breaks, and when teachers are away. This used to be done on a voluntary basis by teachers if they wanted to earn a little extra money. It is not a core duty. During the financial crisis, one thing teachers agreed to was to do S&S for free for a period of time. When that period was over, which it is, they would go back to being paid €6 a fortnight to do this. The government reneged on this promise and we are refusing to do this work for free. Therefore, on health and safety grounds students cannot go to school as there is no supervision. The government have a contingency plan which is to hire people from outside to do this supervision. What do they plan to pay them? €19 per hour of tax payer money. The reason schools are closed regardless of the contingency plan is that the government argue teachers did not give them enough time as it takes 6 weeks to Garda Vet anyone who wishes to work in a school. But this is incorrect. They have known this would happen since last June, five months ago. Because of all this, today, teachers are sitting in their classrooms, unpaid, wanting to teach, but students cannot enter the premises. 

The second issue is around ‘LPTs’: This means ‘Lower Paid Teachers’. This is what the previous strike day, and tomorrow’s strike day is for. LPTs are teachers who qualified after 2011 / 2012 and are now on a completely different pay scale and pension scheme to that of their colleagues. We are not looking for a pay rise; we are looking for pay restoration. For instance, a teacher who qualified in 2013, working 3 years with a first class honours degree and diploma will be earning €9,057 a year less simply because of when they qualified. Again, the government says a deal is on offer to the ASTI, but a teacher at this point of their career would gain absolutely nothing, and would have lost about €27000 so far over their three year career. 

I hope that understanding the issue, the public will choose to support teachers. We want to teach. We want to get our students ready for their exams, ready for life. We upheld our side of the deal. We just want the government to uphold theirs. How can we preach equality to our students in the classroom if we do not have it in the staff room. If you wish to learn more about this there is an informative blog post here:  http://peterlydon.ie/you-wont-believe-what-the-minister-for-education-said-about-the-asti-strike/"

Donna Marie Leacy

If that's not eye-opening, we don't know what is. 

Educators and teachers are key to the infrastructure of Ireland and Irish citizens and they should be paid properly. 

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Written By

Alana Laverty

Just a Galway gal eating and writing her way around Dublin alana@lovin.com / @alanalav