Donegal teacher takes over leadership of country’s largest second-level teachers’ union

From tomorrow, Wednesday August 1, Gerry Breslin, a business and maths teacher at Colaiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, assumes the role of President of the ASTI – the largest second-level teachers’ union in Ireland.

From tomorrow, Wednesday August 1, Gerry Breslin, a business and maths teacher at Colaiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, assumes the role of President of the ASTI – the largest second-level teachers’ union in Ireland.

Gerry says his key priorities for the coming year are protecting the education service from further cutbacks and improving the pay and conditions of recently qualified second-level teachers.

“Our schools were under-funded even before any of the cutbacks of the past three-and-a-half years. As ASTI President, I will work to convince the politicians of this country that the cutbacks approach is not working. Cutbacks have failed to deliver economic recovery, but have deepened the recession and accompanying social crisis,” said Gerry Breslin.

“We have the capacity to turn this country around through sound investment including investment in our young people’s education. Young people are our greatest natural resource and investing in them is vital not only because we must protect their futures, but because it is the only enduring solution to our economic problems.”

Young teachers need support

“Young teachers are reliant on trade unions to support and protect them at this extremely difficult time,” said Mr Breslin. “I am determined to improve the situation whereby almost a third of second-level teachers are in temporary teaching positions and 50% of second-level teachers under the age of 30 are on contracts of one year or less. After qualifying to teach, the majority of second-level teachers spend up to 10 years trying to secure a permanent full-time position. The ASTI has up to 3,000 teachers in precarious employment and many are going from job to job and school to school. This is a terrible way to begin a career in teaching. If affects the morale of young teachers and impacts on their students’ education.”

Another concern of Mr. Breslin is the severe reductions in salary that new teachers have endured and that the two tier salary scale will cause serious problems in the future: “It is simply unacceptable that a newly-appointed teacher would be paid an entirely different rate to the other teachers in a school. New teachers starting work today are paid up to 30% less than they would have been if they started work three and a half years ago.”

Gerry Breslin is originally from Bundoran. He is a former student of St Macartan’s College in Monaghan. He has a Degree in Commerce from UCD and received his H. Dip in Education from NUI Maynooth. He previously served on the ASTI’s Central Executive Council and Standing Committee and was elected Vice President of the union in 2011.

The ASTI represents 17,500 second-level teachers in schools all over the country.