Union to ballot members on pay talks

Wed, Dec 2, 2009, 00:00

TEACHERS:TEACHERS WILL be balloted on the outcome of the current talks with the Government, the Irish Nationalk Teachers Organisation (INTO) said last night.

A spokesman said: “The INTO is a fully democratic organisation and every member is entitled to have their say. This will be done through established practices.”

Speaking after last night’s meeting of the INTO executive, incoming general secretary Sheila Nunan said sufficient progress had been made to enable further talks.

She said unpaid leave had to be seen as an alternative to a second Government-imposed pay cut. “Detail about how unpaid leave might apply to primary education has yet to be worked out,” she added. But another teachers’ group labelled last night’s deal between the Government and the public service unions as the “greatest betrayal in the history of the Irish trade union movement”.

The new lobby group, organised by the Dublin branch of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), convened a press conference yesterday to express their misgivings about the latest deal. Those present said the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) had no mandate from any union to discuss a pay cut. They also insisted unpaid leave represented a pay cut.

Ben Bishop, chairman of the TUI Dublin branch, said an increase of one hour in a teacher’s week would result in major job losses. He predicted there would be no jobs for teaching graduates if the latest cuts are implemented.

While the new lobby group is comprised of a relatively small numbers of teachers, its supporters have considerable influence in the three teacher unions. In the most recent ballot, an overwhelming majority of teachers – up to 77 per cent – voted in favour of last month’s one-day stoppage.

Speaking at the press conference Finbar Geaney, of the Dublin city branch of the TUI, said we were witnessing the greatest betrayal in the history of the Irish trade union movement.

“The Ictu officials have bought the entire government agenda and are behaving now as government agents within the trade unions. However, this pay cut will be resisted and the union leaders who are attempting to foist it on their members will be replaced through the action of ordinary members.

“Ireland is a rich country and it is time to make the multimillionaires and billionaires pay for the crisis which is their creation.” Niall Smyth of INTO said that the feeling of members on the ground was completely at odds with those engaged in the talks.