ireblog.jpg  Demonstration against Spending Cuts in Ireland Last Winter Members of all teaching unions in Ireland have voted overwhelmingly to strike on November 24th. 4 out of 5 of the country's 65,000 teachers voted to take strike action. They are angry at massive cuts in education spending which have led to job cuts, increased class sizes and salary cuts. Teachers in Ireland have already taken an effective pay cut by being forced to pay a pension levy earlier this year.A joint statement from the four unions Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), the Association of Sectondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) together with the higher education union the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said: “Teachers and lecturers are taking this action because they have never before faced such a serious threat to their pay, pensions and terms and conditions. The four teacher unions believe there is a better, fairer way which does not involve singling out public sector workers or dismantling vital public services. Teachers, lecturers and other public sector workers are being treated as if they are somehow responsible for causing the crisis in the public finances. They are angry at how their sector has already suffered severe cutbacks, both in terms of teacher and lecturer job losses as well as financial support for schools and colleges. These have had a hugely detrimental effect on the most vulnerable students in their communities and on working conditions of teachers. They are also hurt by their vilification as public servants by certain commentators. OECD reports demonstrate that Ireland has a relatively modest public service which is efficient. Public sector workers have already taken a pay cut in the form of the pension levy which was unilaterally imposed on them earlier this year.   “The results of the ballots undertaken by the teacher unions are a signal to the Government that singling out teachers and other public sector workers is unacceptable and that an alternative approach to economic recovery must be adopted which ensures that the burden is shared fairly, the vulnerable are protected and that vital public services are maintained. This must be done by taxation as well as economies and not just through cutting essential public services. The Government has a window of opportunity between now and November 24th to signal its commitment to such an alternative approach.” In uniting together to take action the Irish teaching unions are pointing the way forward for many other countries where teachers are split into different unions.