No provision to pay ASTI for extra duties
Row over allowances could prove to be main flashpoint in current industrial dispute
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin signalled the Government would not allow a situation to continue where members of the ASTI, who rejected the Haddington Road deal, would be paid for supervision and substitution duties while those who accepted the agreement would not.
The Government has not provided the Department of Education with any funding in the budget to pay members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) for carrying out supervision and substitution duties in schools.
The issue could potentially be the most serious flashpoint in the row between the ASTI and the Government following the decision by its members to reject the Haddington Road agreement on public service pay and productivity.
Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) working in second-level schools are not receiving any payment for supervision and substitution duties under the Haddington Road deal which they accepted.
However, the ASTI has told its members that, having rejected Haddington Road, supervision and substitution duties remain voluntary and attract payments. The €1,700 allowance is paid in two tranches, one in February or March and the balance later in the school year.
However, in the budget, there is no provision for supervision and substitution payments to ASTI members. In a statement to The Irish Times, the Department of Education said: “The department’s allocation for 2014 assumes that ASTI members are within the Haddington Road agreement.”
Across the education sector, the payment of supervision and substitution payments cost about €90 million last year.
Earlier this month, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin signalled the Government would not allow a situation to continue where members of the ASTI, who rejected the Haddington Road deal, would be paid for supervision and substitution duties while those who accepted the agreement would not.
He said: “It is not sustainable that people who have embraced the agreement would do work without pay and those who put themselves outside it would be paid for that work. Everybody understands that is not a sustainable situation.”
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn later said the situation “probably was unsustainable over time”, but he wanted to move forward.
However, the union has warned that any move by the Government to withdraw the supervision and substitution allowance could escalate the dispute and see teachers pull out of providing these duties – a move which in the past has led to the closure of schools on health and safety grounds.
For the last few weeks, members of the ASTI have been engaged in relatively low-level industrial action. This has mainly involved refusing to take part in parent-teacher and other meetings outside school hours.
The ASTI members are also not participating in in-service training for the Government’s new reforms of the Junior Cert and not taking on any new middle-management duties without payment. The Joint Managerial Body which advises schools’ managements has recommended schools begin holding parent-teacher meetings during the working day.
One of the country’s larger second-level schools, Malahide Community School, has said it will hold parent-teacher meetings tomorrow for its Leaving and Junior Cert students during school hours with other students having the day off.
The Department of Education said school closures were a matter for school management and it was monitoring the situation closely.
On Friday, Mr Quinn said he was willing to talk to the ASTI about education matters but not about terms and conditions under the Haddington Road agreement.