An Irish Demonstration earlier this Year
Primary teachers in Ireland are in the middle of a ballot for strike action - the result will be announced on Monday
Members of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) are planning 3 days of strikes in response to public sector cutbacks which have meant cuts in salary, pension entitlements and conditions in schools. Primary teachers have already voted in favour of strike action in the spring but the strike never went ahead because the leadership wanted time to talk to the government. However no progress has been made.
Sheila Nunan - incoming General Secretary of INTO said: 'the current challenges must not be addressed by placing an unfair and disproportionate burden on public sector workers.' The union leaders believe that as a result of cuts in the forthcoming budget in December working hours will be lengthened and there will be salary cuts of 50 million Euros a year. INTO is intending to co-ordinate its action with other teaching and public service unions.
Meanwhile a report from the OECD - the organisation which co-ordinates the economic co-operation and development of rich countries - is calling for pay cuts for Irish teachers and larger class sizes in order to bring about 'efficiency' savings. The report disputes the assertion that Irish education is underfunded despite the fact that its funding level at 4.2% of GDP is a full percentage point below the EU average. It also says that small schools are 'inefficient' and calls for the bringing in of fees for higher education. As in so many countries Irish teachers and children are being asked to take cuts in their conditions and living standards in order to pay for the eonomic crisis caused by the neo-liberal free market policies promulgated by organisations like the OECD, the World Bank and the IMF