9th April 2021
Earlier this week, the ASTI, INTO and TUI unions condemned the decision of government to abandon vaccine prioritisation for teachers. At all times, the unions have made clear that they are not looking for prioritisation ahead of vulnerable and high-risk adults or frontline healthcare workers. Each union passed an emergency motion at their respective Easter conferences, pledging to work together to challenge this regressive and ill-thought through approach to protecting our essential frontline education workforce.
The three unions are keen to explore a constructive approach to the current deadlock with government, and have written to the Department of Education seeking an urgent meeting with officials. Such a meeting would allow the unions to discuss, in detail, the concerns of teachers – including those who are pregnant or considered high-risk – in relation to primary, post-primary and special schools and explore creative solutions to guarantee our schools can remain open in the face of the ongoing pandemic. The unions have requested that such a meeting should include officials from other key government departments, NIAC and NPHET, to ensure a robust discussion on this pressing issue can take place.
The three unions are also anxious to secure clarity on timeframes and schedules for the vaccination of our respective members and discuss several anomalies in the vaccine roll out which have impacted on educational settings.
It remains the view of the three teacher unions and of many other unions, associations, and representative groups that a parallel process of vaccination for those who live and work in crowded settings which are essential to maintaining public services should be organised alongside the age-based approach to the inoculation of those aged between 64 and 16.
A copy of the joint letter is attached.