Teachers' unions call for urgent meeting with government and health groups after vaccine rollout change
The teachers' unions described the recent changes to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout as "regressive and ill-thought through".
All three teachers' unions - ASTI, INTO and TUI - have written to the Department of Health seeking an "urgent" meeting with officials to demand education staff be re-instated as a priority group in the vaccine rollout.
It comes after a decision was made by the government to change the rollout of the vaccine to an age-based programme from an occupation-based one, a move that has come under fierce criticism from teachers, who argue they should be prioritised because they face a significant risk of Covid-19 infection at work.
In a joint statement, the unions wrote: "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 have written a letter to the Department of Education seeking an urgent meeting with officials, including those from NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee) and NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team).
This is 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.
The three unions have also said they are anxious to secure clarity on timeframes and schedules for the vaccination of their members and "discuss several anomalies in the vaccine rollout which have impacted educational settings".
They added: "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."
Their letter states that if this is not implemented, it could lead to "industrial action, up to and including strike action".
The letter can be read in full here.