Govt must hold firm despite teachers’ threats, says ISME

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The Irish SME Association (ISME) has urged the government not to give in to demands made by teacher unions yesterday to be moved up the priority list in the national vaccine programme.

In a statement ISME said that there have been similar requests from employer groupings in particular sectors among its own membership.

But the association said that it has refused to entertain them as to do otherwise would “open a free-for-all, where Government is forced to deal with the loudest, most threatening groups”, rather than protecting those most at risk.

“While the latest NIAC advice to prioritise vaccination on an age basis may be imperfect and blunt, it is also objectively fair, it deals with the most at-risk citizens first, and it is least prone to circumvention,” ISME stated.

“In any event, ISME does not believe a majority of teachers would support industrial action on this issue, but we also believe that the public and business reaction to it, even if only threatened, would be negative and vociferous.”

The independent business association added that although teachers have the legal right to withdraw their labour, this does not mean that it is “proper or morally defensible” to do so in cases such as this.

“ISME represents businesses such as essential retail, cleaning, warehousing, distribution and food and medicines manufacture, which have continued to work non-stop throughout the pandemic despite the absence of vaccines.

“These people would rightly view any attempt to close our schools as both precious and reprehensible.”