Teachers begin industrial action today

Government cuts pay following union’s rejection of Haddington Road agreement

Industrial action which could affect the holding of parent/ teacher and other meetings outside of tuition hours in second-level schools is to commence today.

Members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) are to embark on industrial action following a decision to reject the Haddington Road agreement on public service pay and productivity.

The Government has invoked financial emergency legislation to cut pay and freeze allowances of members of the union.

Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, also has the power under the legislation to unilaterally change the working conditions of teachers following their rejection of the accord.


So far, the Department of Education has not responded to the ASTI plan for industrial action other than to warn its members that by rejecting Haddington Road they were placing themselves outside the protections of the deal in areas such as compulsory redundancies.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has accepted the agreement.

However, so far the department has not issued an official circular triggering the introduction of measures under Haddington Road to be implemented by TUI members.

As part of the industrial action the ASTI has directed members not to attend meetings that take place outside normal school hours, including school “open nights”.

Meetings scheduled as part of the additional 33 hours per year which teachers had to provide under the original Croke Park agreement also fall under this union ban.

No extra workload
In addition, the union has told members "not to agree to alter existing post duties in any way which will increase the workload of individual posts of responsibility".

“Where a post of responsibility is vacated, members are directed not to undertake any duties thereby arising unless they are pensionably remunerated for this.”

ASTI members have also been directed by the union not to co-operate with in-service training for the introduction of planned reforms to the Junior Cert. The union has told members they are no longer obliged to accept timetable reassignment to facilitate the absence of a colleague taking students on a school activity.

When the planned circular is issued by the Department of Education, members of the TUI, under the Haddington Road deal, will lose out on about €1,700 per year paid in supervision and substitution payments. However, this money continues to be paid to members of the ASTI as they are outside the provisions of the agreement.

The ASTI has urged members to continue with existing supervision and substitution arrangements. However, it has indicated that members could withdraw from carrying out supervision and substitution arrangements if the Minister were to unilaterally cease paying this money.

In previous disputes, the withdrawal of supervision and substitution cover has resulted in the closure of schools on health and safety grounds.

Non-union teachers
A key issue in the current dispute will be how the Minister deals with non-union staff in second-level schools and whether they will be given the opportunity to sign up to the terms of Haddington Road on an individual basis.

Under union rules the TUI cannot recruit ASTI members during the current dispute. However it is understood that some non-union members have been joining the TUI.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent