Primary teachers vote to liaise with other unions
INTO delegates seek strategy in event of rejection of Croke Park II
Ann Fay, outgoing president of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, presents incoming chief Brendan O'Sullivan with his chain of office at the INTO annual conference in Cork yesterday. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Primary teachers have voted overwhelmingly to form an alliance with other public service unions in anticipation of the Government legislating for pay cuts if the trade union movement rejects the Croke Park II deal.
Delegates at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s (INTO) 145th annual congress in Cork voted in favour of a compromise motion instructing the union’s central executive committee to begin talks immediately with the leadership of other public service unions.
In excess of 700 delegates voted for the proposal calling “on the central executive committee to urgently liaise with the executives of other public service unions with a view to promoting and planning a public service solidarity alliance of trade unions across the public service”.
The motion was a compromise after attempts to put an emergency motion calling on the committee to have a strategy in place if a No vote on Croke Park was ruled out of order.
A second motion, described by several delegates as “wishy-washy”, was allowed under standing orders but was rejected by delegates who felt it didn’t achieve anything, leading to the compromise and composite motion being proposed.
The compromise motion also noted that “the Government has clearly signalled its intent to legislate for cuts to the pay and pensions of public servants including teachers in the event of the Labour Relations Commission proposals not being accepted by the trade unions”.
It also stated that “the INTO as a matter of urgency require a strategy capable of defending its members to be in place to take account of any and all eventualities” in relation to the Croke Park II deal.
The move comes as INTO members are
voting on the Croke Park II proposals with an estimated 10,000 of the 32,000 membership having voted to date. The ballot closes on April 15th and the result is due to be made public on April 17th.
According to sources, some 22 delegates spoke during an hour-long debate on the compromise motion, with some opposing it on the grounds that it didn’t go far enough in terms of opposition to the further pay cuts which teachers face under Croke Park II.
Meanwhile, delegates unanimously backed a motion condemning changes to maternity and adoptive leave in the budget which will mean teachers lose an additional maximum of 30 paid absence days available if their maternity leave occurs when schools are closed.
The 30 paid absence days provision was introduced at a time when paid maternity leave stood at 14 weeks rather than 26 weeks and the budget briefing documents estimate the cost of substitution cover for such days to be approximately €20 million a year.
But delegates condemned the move, with several saying it was not just an attack on the INTO, whose membership is 85 per cent female, but on children and families as well.
Equality committee member Tracie Tobin said that maternity and adoptive leave entitlements for teachers were regressing to where they were 10 years ago and in the process falling further behind other European Union states.