Pay cuts and longer hours to top agenda at teachers’ annual Easter gatherings

Cool reception for Ruairí Quinn expected

It could be a fraught Easter week for Minister for Education  Ruairí Quinn as he makes his rounds. Photograph: Frank Miller

It could be a fraught Easter week for Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn as he makes his rounds. Photograph: Frank Miller

 


The three teacher unions gather this week for their annual conventions in venues in Galway, Cork and Wexford. Traditionally a tough week for the sitting Minister for Education, this year’s conferences are likely to be dominated by details of the Labour Relations Commission draft agreement and their implications for teachers' pay and conditions.

The second- and third-level teaching union TUI has already rejected the deal and it could be a fraught Easter week for Ruairí Quinn as he makes his rounds.

The Labour Relations Commission has proposed direct pay cuts for teachers in receipt of €65,000 or more and has outlined sweeping changes to the rules on supervision and substitution cover that will see a loss of earnings for some teachers and a longer working day for others. Freezes on incremental pay rises at various levels are also proposed.

Graduate salaries
New entrants to the profession were regarded as the big losers in Croke Park I, with a two -tier payment arrangement pulling 2012 teaching graduate salaries back by 20 per cent. This year’s conferences are likely to see greater focus on the management grade, which stands to lose 5 per cent of core pay in the context of an increasingly pressurised school management environment.

While pay and conditions tend to dominate debate at conference there will be a substantial focus on teaching and learning this year, as the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) have set aside a whole day to discuss the new Junior Cert reform plan.

A recent ASTI survey of 320 second-level schools revealed a widespread belief among teachers that the Minister for Education’s junior cycle reform plans could undermine educational standards in schools and that assessment of pupils by teachers will lead to pressure on teachers from parents.

Revised Junior Cert
The TUI has also scheduled a debate on the revised Junior Cert, which is due to come on stream in schools in 2014.

The primary teachers’ union, INTO, is the largest of the three unions and its members’ decision on the LRC proposals will be instrumental in the overall success or failure of Croke Park II. The executive at the INTO have not made a recommendation to their members on how to vote in the April 15th ballot.

While there is no Croke Park II motion scheduled for this week’s INTO conference, the LRC proposals will likely provide the backdrop to a range of planned motions on taxation, school funding, principals’ issues and school patronage.

The executive of the ASTI has recommended a rejection of the LRC draft agreement.

TUI president Gerry Craughwell has recently hinted at his unhappiness at the handling of the LRC negotiations and may provide some insight into what went on at Lansdowne Road this week.

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