Teaching unions to ballot members on Haddington Road

Prospect of industrial action looms

If ASTI and the TUI  sign up to Haddington Road it would be for  Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to decide whether  incremental pay rises would be paid retrospectively.  Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

If ASTI and the TUI sign up to Haddington Road it would be for Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to decide whether incremental pay rises would be paid retrospectively. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Thu, Aug 15, 2013, 21:01

Two teaching unions yesterday announced they would be putting the Haddington Road proposals on pay and conditions to a ballot of their members.

The executives of the Association of Secondary School Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) initially rejected the proposal without consulting their members through a ballot.

A spokeswoman for the ASTI last night denied they had decided not to put the proposals to a ballot when the Haddington Road proposal was formulated but had simply taken the view it did not differ sufficiently from Croke park II.

She added however that there were “meetings with the department and some clarifications” over the summer. “The department formally informed the ASTI that that was it – apart from a few minor clarifications – that was the final offer,” she said.

While the TUI has said they will not be endorsing a yes or a no in the ballot, the ASTI said it will be recommending to its members to vote no.

If these education unions formally reject Haddington Road and the Government unilaterally imposes the harsher measures under its financial emergency legislation, there is a prospect of industrial action in schools from the autumn.

In March, the ASTI’s 17,000 members voted to reject the Croke Park II proposal by 84 per cent to 16 per cent. In May, members were balloted again and voted in favour of industrial action to be taken in the event of unilateral changes to teachers’ pay and conditions.

At its meeting yesterday, the ASTI’s executive said teachers had “given enough” in terms of pay-cuts. “New teachers have been singled out for further cuts and all teachers’ working conditions have suffered greatly as schools have lost teaching staff and other vital resources.

“As the union prepares to ballot, the ASTI executive has called on the Government to reconsider the imposition of unfair and draconian measures on public servants who have already suffered great pain in the name of austerity.”

The TUI - which represents just under 15,000 second level teachers and lecturers - said that given the “wide ranging and divergent implications” of the proposal, its members should be provided with “comprehensive information and given a clear opportunity to make a considered decision”.

As things stand, teachers in unions that reject the proposal will lose out on their next increment, which in many cases is due in early September. If these unions subsequently sign up to Haddington Road it would be for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to decide whether these incremental pay rises would be paid retrospectively.