ASTI wants docked wages repaid


Efforts were being made last night to keep talks with teachers going after the Government docked five days' pay from teachers who withdrew from supervision duties last month.

The standing committee of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland said it would pull out of the talks if the Government did not give a guarantee to reimburse the money.

The Department of Education was in discussions with the ASTI yesterday, and a compromise will be placed before a meeting of the standing committee today.

The ASTI is currently in discussions with Mr Tom Pomphrett, a senior negotiator from the Labour Relations Commission. He is seeking agreement between the union and the Government on a teachers' forum which could accommodate the ASTI claim for 30 per cent.

One ASTI source said last night: "We were prepared to work with Mr Pomphrett, but the withdrawal of the money has hardened the mood among teachers."

The Department may propose that the pay be reimbursed, but only if there is an agreement from the ASTI to suspend its action.

The ASTI has begun assembling a legal case on the issue and will seek a judicial review if the Department does not make a proposal soon.

Many teachers were angry yesterday when they saw their pay slips. Some who contacted The Irish Times said they were docked pay for days when they were on sick or bereavement leave.

All ASTI members were docked pay during the five days, the ASTI general secretary, Mr Charlie Lennon, said last night. The Department of Education was not available for comment.

The Department docked the money for the five days in November when supervision was withdrawn.

It did this based on legal advice that break-time supervision had become part of a teacher's duties through "custom and practice", and to withdraw it meant teachers were not doing their jobs.

Mr Lennon was in contact with senior officials yesterday trying to resolve the difficulties. He said if the Department did not come up with a suggestion legal action would follow.

Both sides need to find a solution over Christmas as the ASTI has scheduled industrial action to resume on January 16th.