THE Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board have been urged to take steps to prevent strike action at Colaiste Chiarain in Croom amid fears that an ongoing industrial dispute could damage the reputation of the school.
Croom-based community activist and local election candidate Seamus Sheahan said the dispute is “highly damaging” for the reputation of Coláiste Chiaráin and called for a resolution “sooner rather than later”.
It is understood that the Teachers Union of Ireland is assembling a report to present to the LCETB detailing their issues with the management and operation of the school over recent years.
This follows a ballot in favour of industrial action taken by TUI members in the school a fortnight ago. The teachers are threatening strike action unless a list of 15 grievances they have drawn up are addressed.
“It is of utmost importance that a strike at Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom is prevented at all costs. All students, especially those studying for exams, cannot afford to miss valuable teaching hours at the school; this must be the primary concern for all involved,” said Mr Sheahan.
“Parents are most concerned at the reported escalation of the dispute and imminent industrial action which they feel is avoidable,” Mr Sheahan continued.
“I am well aware of the long-running grievances that staff at the school have but they should be dealt with through the industrial relations mechanisms of the state. The uncertainty is deeply worrying and upsetting for parents and students at Coláiste Chiaráin.
“The principal of the school and the VEC management need to make it clear how they plan on resolving this ongoing dispute and addressing the staff concerns, this cannot be allowed to drag out. The VEC must also confirm whether there will be a new school campus constructed for Coláiste Chiaráin in the Croom area.
“The ongoing uncertainty and planning difficulties must not result in yet another false start for this much needed new community school building.”
Meanwhile city councillor Tom Shortt has lent his support to the staff in Croom.
“I support demands by teachers at Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom to have their complaints regarding management practices at the school properly addressed by the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board,” said Cllr Shortt, himself a secondary school teacher in Scoil Carmel in Limerick city.
“That the conflict at Croom has escalated is not a good reflection on the LCETB,” he continued.
Cllr Shortt said he had previously called for limits on the number of Limerick city students being enrolled in Croom “since the growth in numbers especially at Croom has been based on attracting students from the city.”
The principal of Coláiste Chiaráin, Noel Malone, was unavailable for comment this week.