Second level teachers will not resume industrial action

Central executive council of ASTI vote to continue to suspend action

People attending an ASTI protest seeking equal pay for younger teachers outside Leinster House, Dublin, last year. File photograph: Eric Luke

People attending an ASTI protest seeking equal pay for younger teachers outside Leinster House, Dublin, last year. File photograph: Eric Luke

 

Second-level school teachers have decided not to resume their campaign of industrial action.

At at meeting in Athlone on Wednesday the central executive council of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) voted that its campaign should continue to be suspended.

The ASTI is also to participate in a process with the Government and other unions which is examining the two-tier pay structure under which staff appointed after 2012 receive less than those in place before that date.

Members of the ASTI l voted very narrowly ast month to reject the new public service pay deal.

In June, the union suspended a campaign of industrial action - which led to the closure of schools for a number of days last autumn - pending a vote of the membership on the pay agreement.

Two other teachers’ unions, the INTO and TUI have also voted to reject the new pay deal.

However, the agreement has been backed by the overall public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The opposition by teaching unions to the deal is largely attributed to anger at the current two-tier pay structure.

ASTI president Ger Curtin said that unequal pay was already having a significant negative impact on teaching and on the second-level education service.

“Teachers are leaving the profession or taking up positions abroad. Young people are turning away from entering the profession and towards other more stable and better paid careers,” he said.

Schools are having difficulties filling teaching posts across a wide range of subjects. The only way to resolve this is to provide a dignified route of entry to teaching by ending unequal pay and allowing young teachers to earn a decent living.”

On Tuesday, the Government agreed that penalties should be imposed on public service groups which did not “subscribe” to the new deal. These included a freeze on increments until 2020 and a nine-month delay in the payment of scheduled increases.

On Tuesday the Department of Public Expenditure said unions would have to declare either to the Workplace Relations Commission or to the public services committee of Ictu whether they will be bound by the majority decision of public service groups to back the new pay accord.

However on Wednesday, the Department of Education said the new legislation distinguished between public servants who were covered by the agreement and public servants who were not covered by the agreement.

“In the case of unions affiliated to Ictu, the legislation allows Ictu to provide umbrella confirmation of coverage on behalf of its affiliate unions,” it said.

“While individual unions have voted to reject the agreement, the PSSA has been accepted by a majority vote of the public services committee of Ictu.”