The ball is in your court, Quinn tells teachers’ union
No room for renegotiation of Haddington Road agreement, Minister for Education says
There was no possibility of a renegotiation of the Haddington Road agreement and it was now for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland to decide what it would do, the Minister for Education and Skills has said.
Ruairí Quinn was speaking earlier today at a primary school event in Killanarden, Tallaght. “To use a sporting analogy...the ball’s in their court,” he said.
The negotiations had not related only to teachers it was across the entire public service run by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It was not a dispute between the Department of Education and Skills and the teachers’ unions, Mr Quinn said. He would have to be guided by decisions taken by that department.
The discussions had happened and the process now had to move on to the next stage and the next stage is next week and industrial action, Mr Quinn said.
“Asti had the summer to reflect on where they were and their members. They took a decision. The consequences of that decision they now themselves have to analyse and to look at. It is for them to decide what is in their best interest and the interest of the schools. I will await what they have to say to ourselves.”
Mr Quinn was asked whether it was fair that other teachers’ unions having voted in favour of the Haddington Road agreement had lost payments for supervision and substitution duties while Asti under earlier agreements retained these payments.
He described it as a “challenge” but said the department would have to see how it unfolded. “It is too early at this stage, the industrial action hadn’t started until next week,” he said.
“I am going to have to proceed fairly cautiously. I would prefer not to be in this place,” he acknowledged, but that was the decision taken by Asti.
However that the daily experience of young people in the schools “should not be disrupted” and it had seemed clear from comments made by Asti secretary general Pat King that this was not the unions intention, he said.
Mr Quinn yesterday warned teachers who are members of the Asti that they will lose protection against compulsory redundancies on foot of their decision to reject the Haddington Road agreement. Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, he also said teachers would face a “monetary impact” as the Government applied the full measures of financial emergency legislation introduced over the summer for groups in the public service that did not sign up to the deal.
Today, he defended his use of the term compulsory redundancy, saying that it had not been written into anything. It was that the safeguards of guaranteed employment and redeployment that had been in place were gone once Asti voted against the agreement.
Compulsory redundancy was unlikely in any event given the department would be hiring 900 teachers this year and this was likely to continue for the next five years as the schools population rose. But the safeguards had been lost.
“These are things really that the people directly on the ground have to figure out for themselves and decide what is in their best interests and in the best interests of their pupils and the schools community they are working in,” Mr Quinn said.