Pay freezes for 10,000 teachers if ASTI rejects ‘final’ offer
Union to ballot this month on proposals to settle dispute over pay and curriculum reforms
The latest talks follow industrial action which led to the closure of hundreds of secondary schools last year. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Almost 10,000 secondary teachers will lose out on thousands of euro in planned pay increases over the coming months if they reject proposals aimed at ending their dispute with Government.
A ballot involving members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) is due to begin shortly based on talks following industrial action which led to the closure of hundreds of secondary schools last year.
ASTI members are drawing up a circular for members which will spell out the consequences of accepting or rejecting the proposals.
The Irish Times understands the union’s leadership has been warned that in the event of rejection, incremental pay increases due to about 10,000 members between now and April will be frozen.
Department of Education officials also told the union that voluntary secondary schools – which are predominantly represented by the ASTI – would be blocked from availing of up to 1,000 middle-management posts due to be restored this year. These schools would also be unable to access about 170 deputy principal posts.
Union sources say they have also been told ASTI teachers who are not permanent would lose protection against redundancy under a redeployment scheme. These teachers would also lose access to faster permanent contracts.
Sources say plans to create about 500 teaching posts this year – to facilitate the training of teachers for the junior cycle – will not apply to schools staffed by ASTI members.
The union’s 180-member central executive committee has urged that the settlement proposals be rejected on the basis that they do not go far enough to reverse “savage cutbacks”.
If the proposals are accepted, teachers would be required to cease industrial action and work additional “Croke Park” hours in exchange for financial gains.
Union sources say they have been told that pay increments would be restored to all members and backdated for more than 2,300 ASTI members who have already have their pay increases frozen.
In addition, teachers would receive a payment worth almost €800 for carrying out supervision and substitution duties.
Under the deal, new entrant teachers would receive pay increases of 15 per cent to 22 per cent over the next 18 months, while a new “opt-out” would be available for teachers who do not wish to provide supervision and substitution cover.
The settlement proposals also require the union to drop its industrial action over the junior cycle and to co-operate with new reforms.
A deadline for students to complete an assessment task worth 10 per cent of their English exam would be extended to April.
The ASTI central executive committee is due to meet again this weekend, when it is likely to decide what industrial action is likely in the event of rejection of the deal.
Sources say there are moves among more hardline members to split the settlement proposals into two votes – one on junior cycle, and one on pay.
However, union sources say they have been warned by the Department that it is an “all or nothing” proposal.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education declined to comment, except to say that it welcomed the decision of the ASTI to give their members a say on the offer now available.