Teachers' union warns against unilateral action by Government

Payments to be removed by mid-January

“This move to unilaterally change teachers’ terms and conditions will lead to a serious escalation of the current industrial dispute in schools,” said Pat King, ASTI.

“This move to unilaterally change teachers’ terms and conditions will lead to a serious escalation of the current industrial dispute in schools,” said Pat King, ASTI.

Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 01:10

The Government’s decision to stop paying members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) for supervision and substitution duties from January will prompt strong action, the union has warned.

The release yesterday of statements from both the Department of Education and the ASTI has kept tensions high as the union proceeds with a ballot of its members on a revised Haddington Road agreement.

The department statement repeated its position that a No vote on the revised agreement meant substitution and supervision duties would be mandatory and unpaid.

Significantly, however, it has set January 17th as the date that this would take effect for ASTI members

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This statement in turn prompted one from the ASTI warning that if the Government used its powers to impose change under the Financial Emergency in the Public Interest (Fempi) legislation there would be consequences.

“This move to unilaterally change teachers’ terms and conditions will lead to a serious escalation of the current industrial dispute in schools,” the union’s general secretary Pat King said.

“The ASTI has already stated that if the Government uses the Fempi legislation again to worsen teachers’ terms and conditions we will respond with strong trade union action.”

The A STI rejected the original agreement in an initial ballot but is balloting again after concessions by Government.

Union members were fully informed of the results that would follow either a yes or a no vote, an ASTI spokeswoman said yesterday. “The difference is the date. We knew that this would happen,” she said.

The Haddington Road agreement included provisions for the removal of the substitutions and supervision payments and their integration into the pay scales of teachers in 2017 and 2018. ASTI rejected this and argued the previous arrangements remained in place.

This would have seen ASTI members doing these duties receive an initial payment of about €850 in January/ February, and a matching sum towards the end of the 2014 academic year.

“The Government has decided that in the event of a further rejection of the Haddington Road Agreement, this allowance will be discontinued with effect from January 17th, 2014, and that the discharge of substitution and supervision duties will be mandatory and unpaid from that date in line with the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement,” its statement said.

The union official did not believe the Government’s statement would influence the ballot given it was known this would happen. Only the date was at issue, she said.

“Our members were aware there would be an end to the substitution and supervision arrangements.”

A result of the ASTI ballot should be known by the week before Christmas.