My purpose in running was to offer a different way forward. The first essential of a trade union member is the possession of a sense of solidarity with their weakest colleague and using the pressure of the whole union to bring about improvements and changes for them. In a functioning union everyone must be willing to take action to defend the principles the union holds inviolable. I still believe that no amount of bluster will hide inaction. No amount of talk replaces doing something. If we shirk our responsibility to stand up for the most vulnerable and with them we let everyone down.
I believe that until these gigantic issues of Junior Cycle and Lansdowne Road are dealt with, the focus won’t shift to new entrants pay or reversing austerity cuts. Even then, I’d wager something will get in the way.
The perception of our union is that it is opposed to any change because it is change and not whether it is right or wrong. That it wants to maintain the status quo, preserve the past, glorify it, ignore the outside world. Our members, aside from those of us who engage in union business, are disengaged. If the perception is true our strategy, such as it is, is not working.
The latest history of the ASTI BY John Cunningham is entitled Unlikely Radicals. It refers to the teachers who built our union: being an essentially conservative profession, but forging from that a radical support for their desire to advance education. I wouldn’t like to think we are becoming a union without ideas.
Nothing worth gaining is ever gained without effort. I know there are many, many good trade unionists in this room who have the interests of classroom teachers at heart in their deliberations, but I wonder how different any of our teaching lives will be next Monday when we return to the classroom because of anything decided here at Convention. The ASTI should be led from the bottom up, not the top down.
I would sincerely like to thanks those 153 delegates who voted for me.
I would like to acknowledge the many friends I have made here, on Standing Committee and at CEC.
The support I got from other branches and their members heartened me greatly.
And the Waterford Branch. As a Tipperary man I am semi detached from Waterford but have found a wonderful home. One delegate put it very well: you’re from the Waterford Branch? That’s some branch!
I am no longer a member of CEC or Standing Committee, so I guess the next time I see you will be at next years Convention.