Parents council does not want to be ‘dragged into’ teacher dispute

Children ‘being used as pawns’ and ASTI and government should be talking ‘24 hours a day’ to sort

The National Parents Council does not want to be ‘dragged into’ the second level teacher dispute in which children are ‘being used as pawns’, president Paul Mooney has said.  Photograph: iStock

The National Parents Council does not want to be ‘dragged into’ the second level teacher dispute in which children are ‘being used as pawns’, president Paul Mooney has said. Photograph: iStock

 

The National Parents Council does not want to be “dragged into” the second level teacher dispute in which children are “being used as pawns”, president Paul Mooney has said.

Mr Mooney told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the National Parents Council Post Primary has not heard from anybody about the possibility of parents helping out in schools during the days when Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) members are on strike.

“We’re saying we don’t want to be involved in the dispute. Creative minds between the Department of Education and Skills and the ASTI should be sitting down 24 hours a day sorting this dispute out.

Mr Mooney added that he did not see logistically how such a proposal could work

“There are issues of training, vetting, then there are issues of the local community passing pickets - for example, would the ASTI be amenable to allowing parents to do that sort of work?” “We don’t see how parents can really help.”

He said the central point was the children and the “anxiety it’s going to cause, the stress it’s going to cause, the interference in their study. Does any body think in that line?”

He was speaking in the wake of a decision by the ASTI to stage seven days of strikes between late October and early December, and for its 17,000 members to withdraw from carrying out supervision and substitution payments from November 7th.

This measure on its own could lead to the closure of hundreds of schools unless suitable personnel can be found to carry out these arrangements in place of teachers.

The ASTI’s action is in protest at lower pay for recently-qualified teachers and at penalties imposed by the Government on union members for “repudiating” the Lansdowne Road deal.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton on Sunday indicated that a substantial pay deal is on the table for newly-qualified teachers but it would still leave a gap of some €1,800 between their earnings and those of teachers appointed prior to the economic crash.

Mr Bruton said the issue of the remaining pay gap could be addressed in negotiations on a successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement, which would start on the back of the work of the Government’s new public service pay commission. The Lansdowne Road deal is due to expire in 2018.

Mr Bruton told RTÉ’s This Week that people taken on across the whole public service in recent years – and not just in teaching – had been recruited on inferior terms.

Mr Bruton’s spokesman last night said a deal was offered to the ASTI that would see pay increases of between 15 and 22 per cent for new entrants with a route to potential further rises.

Such a deal would be in keeping with an agreement reached several weeks ago with two other teacher unions, the TUI and the INTO. However, as part of this deal the other unions had to agree to sign up to the Lansdowne Road agreement – which has been rejected by the ASTI – and to implement some reforms.

Mr Bruton said the proposals on offer would mean teachers recruited this September would receive a raise of €4,600, or 15 per cent, by January 2018, to €35,602. He said for a newly-qualified teacher recruited last September, the deal would be worth €6,700 by January 2018, an increase of 22 per cent to €37,723.

Mr Bruton said the deal accepted recently by the other teaching unions had gone a substantial way towards closing a pay gap between teachers who were taken on in recent years and those in place before the economic crash.

However, he acknowledged that a pay differential of about €1,800 remained.

Following a decision earlier this year by the ASTI to withdraw from working 33 additional, unpaid, non-teaching hours each year, agreed under a previous public service deal, the Government determined the union had “repudiated” the Lansdowne Road agreement.

It subsequently invoked financial emergency legislation and froze incremental pay rises due to ASTI members and said they would forfeit the payment of about €800 due in September for carrying out supervision and substitution duties in schools.

It is understood the Government believes that if the union rescinded its directive to members not to work the “Croke Park hours”, it would no longer be considered to be repudiating the Lansdowne Road accord.