Industrial action on the agenda


THE consequences of the current fraught negotiations over the early retirement package for teachers run through this year's TUI congress like seams through a mine, with worries over the deterioration in working conditions for teachers adding further pressure to an already difficult situation for the union.

The recent decision by the TUI membership to reject the package, despite a narrow vote in favour of its recommendation by the TUI executive earlier in the year, could leave the TUI facing the prospect of industrial action unless talks with the Minister for Education yield some room for manoeuvre. And the general secretary, Jim Dorney and national officers, arrives in Cork this morning with last week's call from the Dublin branch for their resignation - for their presentation of the package - still ringing in their ears.

Two motions in particular on the congress agenda are likely to bring the issue to the fore. The first motion in the superannuation/ retirement section of this week's discussions calls on congress to reiterate the union's total rejection of the early retirement package", with the possibility of industrial action being used to bring about a resolution of the matter.

A second motion on the issue instructs the executive to withdraw entirely from current negotiations on the retirement package as it is in conflict with a 1995 congress decision that "there be no deterioration in working conditions arising from the agreement".

Elsewhere, the priority motion on conditions of service seeks to ensure that "there is no adverse change in conditions of service for teachers and in particular no increase in the length of the school day, school week or school year".

In-service training remains a thorny issue, with what appears to be a heavily-supported motion instructing the executive to direct members not to take part in further in-service courses relating to curricular innovation or change unless fully paid substitution cover is available and the official subsistence and travel rates are paid.