Secondary teachers urged to reject LRC proposals on public sector pay
Union leaders deny opposing Croke Park II deal to protect teachers on over €65,000
Delegates at the ASTI Annual Convention. Photograph: Patrick Browne
Secondary teachers were urged to return a strong rejection of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) proposals on public sector pay at the first day of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland’s annual congress in Wexford yesterday.
Union executives came in for sharp criticism from delegates for their handling of the Croke Park II negotiations
Union chief Pat King said negotiations had been “difficult”. “What follows the ballot I believe may be more difficult still,” he warned.
An emergency motion to reject the LRC proposals was passed by all but two of the 450 union delegates.
Incoming president Sally Maguire urged members to sell rejection of the draft agreement to their colleagues in schools, but stressed that a No vote did not amount to a vote for industrial action.
The executive was accused of recommending rejection in order to protect higher-paid teachers, the only group in line for a direct pay cut. One in four teachers would be affected by a proposed 5 per cent cut in salaries over €65,000.
Suspicion of union chiefs
Delegate Martin McMullan of Dublin South West said there was “deep suspicion of trade union leadership” in staffrooms. “The guys that are negotiating with Government, do they truly represent us?” he asked.
Ms Maguire said there was no question of anyone around the standing committee table protecting those on salaries above €65,000.
Union members have until April 12th to cast their ballot on the proposals, which would see an increase in working hours for most public servants. Under the new scheme, teachers would be required to work up to two hours and 15 minutes extra per week.
Delegates expressed concern that changes to the rules on supervision and substitution would have a negative impact on employment prospects for new teaching graduates.
“Casualisation of our profession means that the additional hours we are being asked to work for nothing is going to create unemployment for our colleagues. It’s disgraceful that a Labour Minister should create this situation,” said one Dublin delegate.
Two speakers called for members to walk out on Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn when he addresses the conference today. “Let’s leave the Minister speaking to an empty room,” said Andrew Phelan of Dublin North West, to a moderate ripple of applause.
Ms Maguire countered one speaker’s suggestion that a rejection of Croke Park II amounted to a call for industrial action. “Let your members know they are not voting for a strike at this time,” she said.
However, she went on the say the union was heading for “open dispute with the Government if they threaten to pull the plug on the guarantees of Croke Park I”.
“It is not reasonable for any government to come back in 2013 to renegotiate an agreement that was supposed to stand until 2014.
“Schools are completely swamped with all that is expected of them. I have never seen morale so low.”