Secondary school disruption looks inevitable
Government expected to wait to see nature of any industrial action
There are no indications yet as to the nature of any industrial action that may be undertaken by the ASTI.
It now seems inevitable that there will be some form of disruption in secondary schools following the decision by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) to reject the Haddington Road agreement and to vote for industrial action.
The only issue is how extensive any action will be. This is likely to be decided next week, with the 25-member standing committee of the union to convene on Monday.
However, the decision of members of the Teacher’s Union of Ireland (TUI) to accept the deal means ASTI is in an isolated position, although the stance of university lecturers on Haddington Road will not be known until early next week. Primary teachers have already accepted the deal.
There are no indications as yet as to the nature of any industrial action that may be undertaken by ASTI. However, during the ballot members were given examples of industrial action which could take place. These included a work-to-rule, non-co-operation with measures such as the 33 additional hours provided annually by teachers under the original Croke Park deal, withdrawal from some education initiatives and other action up to and including strikes.
A number of senior industrial relations figures suggested yesterday that abandoning the additional working provided by teachers under Croke Park could be the more likely course of action.
Withdrawing co-operation from supervision and substitution arrangements could also prove to be an effective campaign for teachers without them having to take to picket lines. However, one of the current ironies is that technically, unless the Government opts to unilaterally change the arrangement, primary teachers and TUI members under Haddington Road will not be paid for supervision and substitution while ASTI members will continue to receive payment.
During a previous ASTI dispute several years ago, the withdrawal of such supervision and substitution arrangements led to the closure of some schools on health and safety grounds.
In rejecting Haddington Road, members of the ASTI now face the imposition of financial emergency measures introduced by the Government in the summer which, ironically, are more draconian in some regards.
Under Haddington Road, pay cuts for those earning between €65,000 and €100,000 which came into force in July, would be reversed by 2018. Under the Government’s financial emergency legislation there is no provision for restoration of pay cuts.
Similarly, under Haddington Road staff earning less than €100,000 would receive their next incremental pay increase, with others delayed for a period. Under the emergency legislation increments and incremental progression are frozen for three years.
The Government has also maintained that groups that did not sign up to Haddington Road put themselves outside the protections of the deal on issues such as job security, leaving open the possibility of compulsory redundancies in the future.
Potentially this could impact on areas where there are surplus teachers who at present have a redeployment arrangement.
The Government is expected to wait to see what precise action ASTI intends to take . However highly-placed sources have insisted there is no prospect of the Government reopening negotiation on the Haddington Road deal.