ASTI and TUI seek further talks on improving Haddington Road deal
Government warns teachers will face cuts under legislation if new proposals rejected
Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “Those unions who have now agreed with the Haddington Road statement will have those agreements honoured, and those unions that do not will be subject to legislation.” Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Two teaching unions are seeking further talks on improving the Haddington Road Agreement on reducing the State’s pay bill in education and other sectors.
In a statement last night, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said they “do not believe there is sufficient improvement and sufficient clarification . . . for it to constitute a final offer”.
“When these matters are addressed, ASTI and TUI members will be consulted,” the unions said, arguing it was “still possible to conclude an agreement”.
However, the Government warned the unions that if they did not accept the Haddington Road Agreement they would have cuts imposed on them under legislation to go through the Oireachtas next week.
On Thursday the executives of the ASTI and TUI in effect rejected the new proposals drawn up at the Labour Relations Commission earlier this week.
Neither union plans to ballot members on the proposals as they maintain they do not differ sufficiently from the original Croke Park II document which their members rejected last month.
Teaching unions have warned of industrial action if the Government invoked the new legislation it published on Thursday to reduce unilaterally members’ pay or worsen their conditions of employment.
Last night another education union, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), said it would ballot members on the Haddington Road Agreement but would first hold a special conference to determine whether to accept, reject or take no position on the proposed deal.
The special consultative conference will take place on June 8th.
In a statement issued after a three-hour meeting of its executive, the union also said that in the meantime IFUT would “be seeking legal opinion on the legal and constitutional validity of the proposed Government legislation aimed at imposing its proposals”.
Separately, the trade union representing doctors, the Irish Medical Organisation, has deferred a decision on the proposals. The IMO council is to consider them at a meeting early in June.
Speaking in Galway, Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned that those teachers’ unions which had not agreed to the Haddington Road proposals would be subject to the legislation that would go before the Oireachtas next week.
“The Government and the Labour Relations Commission have spent five months now of very extensive, very open, very comprehensive, very thorough discussions, negotiations and analysis on all of these matters.
“Those unions who have now agreed with the Haddington Road statement will have those agreements honoured, and those unions that do not will be subject to legislation which will go through the Dáil and the Seanad next week.”
Meanwhile, the assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for a radical restructuring of how the trade union movement organises itself.
Speaking at a debate at a divisional conference of the trade union Impact in Wexford on Friday, Sally Anne Kinahan said there were 49 trade unions with a collective membership of about 600,000 operating in Ireland.
She said that in the UK, where the workforce was 20 times larger than in Ireland, there were also were 49 trade unions.
The movement was not going to bring about necessary change with 49 separate unions and a relatively weak central body, she said.