ASTI demands abolition of extra work hours and pension levy

Conference told additional hours has led teachers to withdraw from after-school activities

Delegates at the ASTI conference in Killarney vote unanimously in favour on a motion calling for the rescinding of the “Croke Park hours”. Photograph: Don MacMonagle.

Delegates at the ASTI conference in Killarney vote unanimously in favour on a motion calling for the rescinding of the “Croke Park hours”. Photograph: Don MacMonagle.

 

Second-level teachers who are members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) are to demand the rescinding of the additional 33 hours per year they have to work under Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements as well as the abolition of the public service pension levy.

At its convention in Killarney, delegates described the pension levy as unfair and unjust as private sector workers were not affected.

The pension levy, which averages about 7.5 per cent, was put in place in 2009 and represented the first reduction in earnings of public service staff following the economic collapse.

The 33 additional hours – dubbed “after-school detention for teachers” – are used mainly for planning and meetings outside of regular teaching hours.

Proposing the rescinding of the additional “Croke Park hours” Séamus Meskill of the union’s Desmond branch said the then government had used the financial crisis to implement a radical restructuring of the education system and to dismantle pay and working conditions of teachers.

Savings generated

“The upturn in the economy has been under way for some time and Ministers are constantly reminding us of this.”

He said it was time for a review of the Croke Park/Haddington Road productivity measures, as provided for in the accord in the event of an improvement in economic conditions.

“As the Haddington Road deal expires in July 2016, we need to state now to our negotiators as well as to the Government that we want our hours back.” He warned if the union did not make its case now, the hours could become a recognised part of teachers’ jobs.

Siobhán O’Donovan, a teacher in Mallow, said everyone was agreed that Ireland was in a state of dramatic economic recovery and this was one reason why the additional hours should now be rescinded.

“That is not to say I do not want a cut in the crippling universal social charge, or a reduction in tax or dare I say it a pay increase. But I take these in line with all other public service workers. But these hours are far more teacher-specific. They are more personal, petty and I want them back.

Time taken

Ms O’Donovan said the requirement for the additional 33 hours had a negative knock-on effect with many teachers withdrawing from time previously given for extra-curricular activities.

Mark Walsh of Dublin North East said there was no doubt the Government would seek to roll the Croke Park and Haddington Road deals into a new agreement.

“We have to be steadfast and say this cannot be continued into the next agreement. The Croke Park hours must die with the Croke Park agreement.”