Teacher unions may seek clarifications ahead of vote
on 27/02/2013 00:00:00
The issues that emerged on Monday caused a wave of phone calls to unions and messages on websites seeking clarity on the issues, as well as strong criticisms from some members.
All four teaching unions will hold executive meetings today to decide if they should proceed to a ballot or seek further clarifications.
A key measure on the table is that all teachers would have to provide 49 hours a year of supervision and substitution without pay.
The majority of teachers are signed up to voluntary contracts under which they are rostered 37 hours of supervision or substitution a year, about an hour a week at primary level.
But the payment of €1,800 a year, or €1,500 for teachers who started their careers since 2011, will no longer be made. Their required availability for this work will also increase from an hour-and-a-half to two- and-a-quarter hours a week.
Third-level academics will have pay withdrawn for marking exams as part of a requirement to work 78 extra hours a year.
Principals and deputy principals, or longer-serving teachers with middle-management allowances, will be hit most by cuts to pay over €65,000, proposed across the public service.
About two-thirds of school teachers will not be affected by that cut.
But the Irish Federation of University Teachers said its members face significant wage cuts under the proposals.
"These proposed further cuts take no account whatever of major increases in productivity combined with substantial reductions in funding, staffing, and wages throughout the university sector over the past number of years," said general secretary Mike Jennings.
Unions said the Government has agreed only one cut will be applied to those in line to have their core pay reduced and supervision pay axed. They also pointed to measures that move toward restoring equal pay for teachers who started their careers on reduced pay and pensions in recent years.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation will be key to the overall acceptance or rejection of Croke Park II, given it has 32,000 members out of a 290,000-strong public service.
The Teachers' Union of Ireland said members should be given time to consider the proposals objectively. Its website said the Department of Education is committed to giving teachers working for many years without job security priority access to permanent jobs.
The TUI rejected the last Croke Park agreement which was subsequently passed by the wider union movement through the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland initially voted against it but accepted the deal after issues around extra hours and redeployment were clarified by the department.
Anger at loss of payment
Supervision and substitution payments to teachers was introduced in 2003 as then education minister Noel Dempsey sought to end the government's pay dispute with the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland.
The work was done on an unpaid basis before 2003. The issue was one of the biggest gripes among those who commented on the Facebook pages of teacher unions:
From ASTI Facebook page:
*"Call me cynical but the Government has already reneged on the first deal so I don't hold their latest 'promises' in any regard."
*"I think the hit on S&S payments, negated by the decrease in the pension levy means that we teachers have effectively been offered a 'pay increase delay', rather than a freeze or cutback. Show me the sums proving otherwise."
*"Doing work for free is not protecting anything, the goodwill we all have will be destroyed and where are we supposed to get time to prepare for classes and do all the admin if all periods are eaten up by supervision?"
From INTO Facebook page:
*"Disgraceful carry-on by our supposed union. Whose interests are they representing? Their own obviously. What union goes into negotiations totally accepting pay cuts for their members without bothering to ask its members what they even wanted. More cuts, its abitter pill to swallow."
*"This isn't a bad deal for us. The frontline workers have come off much worse. People need to get real. If the boss is broke our wages can't be paid."
From TUI Facebook page:
*"Are we getting our S&S payment or not? Some people were relying on it. I was going to buy an expensive inhaler I can't afford in a normal month! I don't understand how this deal is effective as of July 2013 when the original deal was supposed to protect our salaries until 2014. That was the only reason we accepted it. What are the TUI going to do about it? It seems as if the subscription we're all paying would be much better off in our pockets."
- Niall Murray