[Sinn Fein]

30 November 2000

Teachers' claim: Government must show flexibility - Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has repeated his call for the Minister for Education, Mr Michael Woods TD, to enter immediate talks with the teachers' union, ASTI, on the basis of the secondary school teachers' pay claim. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``This ongoing dispute is causing increasing concern to pupils and parents. The Government bears a heavy responsibility.  By sticking rigidly to the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) - to which the ASTI is not a party - the Government is guilty of inflexibility.  Clearly the matter cannot be resolved strictly within the terms of the PPF.

``The bottom line is that the teachers deserve to be paid. The difference between their full claim and increases already granted to them by the Government is not great.  Minister Woods and his Cabinet colleagues should have the imagination and flexibility to bridge the gap.

``It will be inexcusable if the Government allows the teachers' dispute to remain unresolved into the New Year and in the run-up to examinations. It would be a travesty to do so in order to prop up the PPF in its present form which, for many workers, has already been outstripped by the spiralling cost of living.''  ENDS

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